Pierce County, covering nearly 1,700 square miles, plans to roll out a wireless network: The county of 750,000 residents, includes the city of Tacoma (pop. 200,000), the butt of my hometown of Seattle's jokes until the recent high-tech, low-smell boom down south. (Tacoma is known for the odor produced by forest product handling, when the wind is just right.) The pilot will roll out starting in November town by town initially. A consortium of municipalities is working with CenturyTel, which will bear all the cost, and which will use SkyPilot gear. Tacoma may opt in for a downtown pilot project.
While SkyPilot maintains their gear competes effectively against other metro-scale providers for urban deployment, I do believe they have a special advantage in rural/town networks. SkyPilot uses a single radio that constantly switches through a scheduled pattern on eight sectorized (45-degree) antennas. This allows them to run extremely high-powered directional links and low-power local links on a single device with simplified pointing. This would require multiple radios or nodes with other manufacturers' gear.
The network will sport free, time-limited public access each day; premium, fee-based access (pricing not set); commercial business-grade broadband; secured municipal and academic access; and free public safety access over what I believe is both the 2.4 GHz public and 4.9 GHz public safety bands. The network will also be resold on a wholesale basis to ISPs.
The "west-metro" area of Colorado--Lakewood to Boulder--collaborate on 220 square mile network: The '"largest regional Wi-Fi networks" phrase will soon need to be retired. This project is big now, but with 1,000-square-mile projects busting out, it will seem quaint in a year. The area in question comprises 10 communities and 600,000 people, and the goal is to have a vendor building the Wi-Fi network by early 2007. They'd like to charge $20 to $30 per month for basic access with low-income discounts.
Santa Barbara airport adds Wi-Fi: ICOA has installed service that launches tomorrow at the airport in the affluent southern California town, home to a bizarre newspaper conflict involving the ex-wife of a prominent McCaw; Doc Searls, blogger and raconteur, an author of The Cluetrain Manifesto; and Jim Sterne, the nicest e-marketing guru on the planet. Oh, and 200,000 other people in the metropolitan area. The airport handles nearly a million passengers a year.