Annapolis Wireless will offer service starting downtown: The Nortel-powered network will be free with corporate and non-profit sponsors already signed up to pay expenses. Use requires registration. The city sees 5.6 million tourists a year.
The press release contains an unfortunate paragraph:
"The creation of a city-wide WiFi system marks Annapolis' entrée into a technologically sophisticated group of cities. Cities such as Philadelphia, Houston and New Orleans also provide free WiFi access. But Annapolis' WiFi carries a distinct difference - many other cities provide the access using taxpayer funds. Annapolis Wireless, by offering sponsorships and advertising to area businesses on its splash page, is able to provide WiFi access to the public without using taxpayer dollars."
The vast majority of citywide networks involve no public funds, and the folks behind the Annapolis network didn't need to make an over-the-shoulder nose tweak at other cities in this way, it seems. The big difference between Annapolis and many other cities that offer or plan to offer Wi-Fi is that most companies providing that scale of service think free isn't sustainable or at least requires advertising (not just sponsorship).