San Jose, California is about to give free Wi-Fi to everyone visiting its downtown.
A partnership between the city, SmartWAVE Technologies, and Ruckus Wireless will bring what they call on the "fastest Wi-Fi networks available" to the city.
“This will bring disturbingly fast Internet access to Downtown, and is part of San José’s strategy to partner with industry leaders who are committed to improving communities and furthering the Silicon Valley experience. Both SmartWave Technologies and Ruckus Wireless will bring the City’s vision of a reliable, free Downtown Wi-Fi to life,” said Vijay Sammeta, Acting Chief Information Officer for the City of San José
Here's how they will do it (emphasis added):
Ruckus is providing outdoor 802.11n access points that will be deployed on light poles and other locations throughout Downtown San José. The majority of these wireless devices will be connected to an ultra high-speed gigabit fiber network that terminates at an Internet peering point called MAE West in Downtown San José. Management of the wireless network will be centralized at City Hall, allowing a single point of visibility, control and tuning of the Wi-Fi network.
As you can see in the map image above, the coverage area will be about 1.5 square miles.
The project will cost $94,000 to set up, with "ongoing costs" that will be about $22,000. San Jose was one of the first cities to implement a free, public wireless internet program back in 2004. They did this through mobiel hotspots. They say that the ongoing costs of the new Wi-Fi network are about the same as what it cost to keep up those hotspots - plus it will give internet to a giant blanketed area, not just around certain centralized locations.
San Jose thinks that it will pay for itself, however, by helping visitors (and residents alike) "discover downtown." The technology will also aid in the connectivity of governmental functions - and the city singles out parking infrastructure as the place when the new Wi-Fi could really help:
In addition to making free Wi-Fi available in public spaces downtown, the new network will also provide redundant and enhanced connectivity for City facilities. It will greatly benefit the downtown parking infrastructure, namely the pay-to-park meters, parking guidance signs and parking garage systems by improving the speed by which time sensitive transactions occur.
A Wi-Fi coverage area is only one new way that we've discussed the topic of internet access today. For a more controversial system for providing internet, check out Homeless Hotspots.