The cities of Bellevue and Kirkland, Washington, consider free Wi-Fi: These are the two adjacent cities to Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., home, and they've pooled some resources to unwire community locations.
This is part of a larger telecommunications overhaul that might also include upgrading fiber-optic service run by the cities. As in Palo Alto and Tacoma, Wash., municipal fiber optic connections could be a key in attracting businesses by reducing their local loop charges and other recurring and capital expenses.
I recently used free Wi-Fi at the Crossroads Mall mentioned in the article. I had an hour or so to kill before meeting colleagues for lunch and found the Starbucks near the entrance to Crossroads. I couldn't get the T-Mobile connection to work, but I saw a network labeled KCLS. Figuring it was a radio station promo network, I connected with no problem. Turns out it's the King County Library System (KCLS!) branch across the street from Crossroads. (Update: The free KCLS Wi-Fi is actually a cooperative project between Crossroads and the library system within the mall.)