Dayton, Ohio, considers expansion of free hotzone: One square mile of downtown has had free Wi-Fi since April; the pilot ends in December. The city is looking at bids to expand citywide public space access to all 55 square miles. The director of Dayton's IT services department believes this will attract business and residents. Meter readers take note! He points to automated meter reading and removing 30 folks from the payroll as potential ways to conserve cash with such a network.
There are some unique aspects to the IT director's plan, including purposely not building a network to extend to indoor spaces to leave the market entirely open to the companies that build the network and existing incumbent and competitive providers. He expects that advertising and service revenue outside the public area will provide revenue to attract bidders.
Aurora had first muni-street lights, now wants muni-Fi: The city of Aurora installed municipal street lights before any other community in the world (oddly, Aurora is the god of dawn, not dusk), and it now wants to be the first city in Illinois with a full-blown municipal network. They estimate the cost at $5 to $6 million to build it out, and would immediately save $96,000 per year in wireless Internet costs they pay.
In this case, the city would build its own network, a fairly unusual proposition these days. They expect to start lighting up the network by early 2006.
Steve Stroh points out over at his BWIA/WiMAX blog that Aurora has an existing wireless ISP. Based on the descriptions on their Web site, they use point-to-multipoint technology versus the Wi-Fi mesh cloud approach that appears to be the dominant method of adding municipal Internet access.
Hartford, Conn., issues RFI (request for information) on free citywide Wi-Fi: The 17-square-mile city with enormous digital divide, urban blight, and rich flight problems has fewer than 33 percent of its residents owning a computer and having Internet access in their homes, the RFI states, according to Muniwireless. Worse, in households with $15,000 per year or less (below the poverty line for household of three of more), just 17 percent have Internet access. Which is fairly remarkable when $10 per month for limited dial-up equals about one percent of your income. The city has a fiber MAN.