Kite Networks has flipped the lights on for 14 sq mi of Wi-Fi service in Chandler, Ariz., adjacent to 40 sq mi in Tempe: The 54 sq mi of networks are contiguous, according to Kite's vice president of marketing Alan Crancer. This gives them bragging rights to the largest such Wi-Fi network covering urban areas. The Chandler and Tempe networks kiss along a highway border between the two towns.
There are larger networks in Rio Rancho and eastern Oregon, but they're not governing urban or suburban areas. MetroFi operates networks in the adjacent cities of Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and Santa Clara, Calif., which have a combined city area of roughly 50 sq mi, but MetroFi covers only large portions of the city, according to their deployment maps that show the location of access points.
Unless plans go awry in other cities, Kite won't be able to keep their title for long. EarthLink and MetroFi are both well underway in building out their flagship metropolitan areas, Philadelphia (135 sq mi) and Portland, Ore. (130 sq mi), respectively.
Chandler is 75 sq mi total, and Kite will eventually build out all of it, giving them 115 sq mi and about 350,000 people passed. At one point, Kite was committed to building out Gilbert (pop. 190,000; 43 sq mi), adjacent to Chandler. There's no mention of this network on the city's Web site or Kite's site. I've asked Kite for the status of that contract. Update: Crancer confirmed the contract is still a go with Gilbert; no progress on the buildout yet.