The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is to host the world's largest WLAN. The wireless mesh network will cover the entire country. Within a year more than 90 per cent of the population will be able to go online and make telephone calls via the WLAN from their home.
The mesh network, supplied by US company Strix Systems, is the first nationwide wireless broadband system in the world. Although there are only 2m people living in the former Yugoslav Republic, which was spared the inter-ethnic violence in the Balkans of the 1990s, the deployment will still be a huge task. The country is known for its mountainous terrain and deep valleys. For this reason, Strix will run separate radio channels for the mesh backbone and client access.
Strix has already deployed a WLAN for the Macedonian capital Skopje, where about 1m people live. All of the country's 460 schools already have broadband connections. How many people in Macedonia can afford to buy a PC and go online is not known. In 2003 only 40 per cent of the population owned a computer. ®