The city council in Hermosa Beach, Calif., just voted to build a Wi-Fi network that will deliver access to residents in their homes: Access will be free to those in range. The initial network will reach a half-mile radius; the entire city is 1.3 square miles. Anyone in that range can use the network.
This installation is interesting on a couple of levels. Many cities are building Wi-Fi networks in downtown cores, usually near a shopping district or the court house, with the hopes that somehow it will draw business to the city. But Hermosa Beach is interesting because it uses city funds to offer free broadband Internet access to homes in range. That makes the network more useful to residents while also useful to visitors to the main street in town.
This application is also interesting because it uses city funds to offer a free service to residents who would otherwise have to pay a cable or DSL company for access. I wonder what the reaction of those players might be to such a service. In fact, one of the city council members in Hermosa Beach works for Cox; he excused himself from discussion and the vote because of the conflict.