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Macomb, Mich., misses June 1 target: The downtown area should have had Wi-Fi by June 1, with other locations coming next year. Bidding is still underway to select a provider, however, and took longer than expected. The ultimate goal is to cover the entire town and nearby towns and villages.
Beauty and Wi-Fi at Multnomah Falls: The state has added for-fee Wi-Fi at the falls primarily for RVs. Service is $1.99 for 20 minutes up to $29.99 per month. Some travel-related sites can be accessed at no charge.
Bucking the trend of larger airports, BWI goes fee-free: The Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Mashall Airport has contracted with BAA USA, the US division of the worldwide airport concessionaire and operator BAA, to provide free service. It's already available in some gates for American Airlines and AirTran, as well as at some restaurants in each terminal. The project will continue through summer. The airport served 20m passengers in 2005. Free service tends to be found in significant regional airports where passengers have options (flying versus driving or choosing one airport over another) such as Sacramento, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Walnut Creek firm unwires city hall area and nearby parks: Astound Broadband wants to blanket downtown with free Wi-Fi. They're "competing" with nearby Concord where MetroFi is launching a square mile of ad-supported free Wi-Fi on Thursday. Astound says their service could provide up to 10 Mbps versus MetroFi's 1 Mbps.
Mesa trying to light fire under no wire: Mesa wants to emulate neighbors like Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale in providing Wi-Fi service. A downtown association wants to add free Wi-Fi, and a city request for information should result in as many as 20 responses from interested firms later this week. There's some resistence, though, as a downtown computer store owner notes some "high customer-turnover businesses" aren't as interested. They don't know that when cell data becomes cheaper, it won't matter if there's Wi-Fi or not; they'll have to line their cafes with metal or ban laptop use.
Hood River gets free Wi-Fi for 90 days: The former local phone division of Sprint Nextel, now called Embarq, has covered three square miles in this small town about an hour east of Portland that's well known for water activities. The company will provide free Wi-Fi for 90 days while they experiment with service and price models. They might turn the network over to the city, too. (My brother-in-law lives in Hood River; I'll expect reports from him.)
New Rochelle installs $150K Wi-Fi network: The network will launch next month covering an area around downtown, including the train station. The money came from the state, Metro-North (which will have Wi-Fi within the station), and the remainder from downtown property owners. The network will have some local information available through a portal page.
Pomona starts pilot project for downtown Wi-Fi: One square mile of Wi-Fi. The press release fails to mention whether this is a free or for-fee network, however.
Cincinnati and Hamilton County's public libraries add Wi-Fi: There's service at the downtown branch and 41 county branches. Service is charged at $4.95 per hour or $9.95 for 24 hours, and it's run by Cincinnati Bell. Can I note how rare this is? Very. Most libraries absorb the cost of Wi-Fi as part of bringing in more users who in turn are more likely to donate to the system, vote for bonds, or otherwise support the library as a critical resource that needs funding.
The Raleigh-Durham airport will be lit up by AT&T: Terminals A and C along with baggage claim and ticketing areas. This deal is a little confusing because Cingular acquired AT&T Wireless's existing airport and train station locations when Cingular absorbed the firm in 2004. These locations were eventually rebranded as Cingular hotspots. Then SBC, the 60-percent owner of Cingular, purchased AT&T itself and renamed itself AT&T recently. Now AT&T wants to purchase Bellsouth, which owns the other 40 percent of Cingular. All this to say: It's hard to figure out quite which entity is in charge of the RDC airport deployment.
Sky Harbor sees 3,500 weekly logins in first three months: The Phoenix airport finds Wi-Fi to be pop-pop-popular! It's free, you see.
Scottsdale will have downtown Wi-Fi running by next month: Wildfire Broadband Wireless Communications--how about a few more words in your business name, folks?--started with Scottsdale Stadium. There are fews for usage. The company will pay $21,000 for the rights to install gear downtown. The contract is non-exclusive.
Pierce County in which Tacoma, Wash., is located, will add Wi-Fi for libraries: The Gig Harbor branch now has free service as part of a test. The library system will then roll out service in seven more libraries, eventually equipping all 17 branches in 2007. The cost: $50K for the whole system. The Pierce County Library System says that 80 percent of US public libraries are in some stage of providing Wi-Fi (the article says "working to offer").
South Reno mall puts free Wi-Fi at patrons' disposal: Meadowood [sic] will provide free Wi-Fi in the food court, center court, and certain other areas via a deal with Clearwire, Craig McCaw's broadband wireless firm. It's a marketing deal, which gives Clearwire some terrific local promotion. Reno is Clearwire's 27th market. Their hard costs for providing this service must be in the low thousands.
Rio Rancho might turn off user fees on Wi-Fi network: Azulstar Networks will allow users 10 hours a month of 100 Kbps free service (as opposed to their 1.5 Mbps/256 Kbps down/up paid service) if the Rio Rancho city council approves it. The free service has paid tech support ($1.50 per minute), and requires viewing ads. The paid service is $20 per month for 400 Kbps down, and $40 per month for 1.5 Mbps down. The city has 70,000 people, mostly across 45 square miles of the 100 square mile town.
A conference in Austin will leave a free wireless network behind: This is quite a lovely idea. The World Congress of Information Technology (WCIT) has its biennial event in Austin this May, and Cisco's $700,000 donation of gear won't leave when the conference does. Instead, it will be a nucleus of service across the city. The city's IT and telecom departments along with Austin Energy will create and maintain the network, which will first be open to convention attendees. The conference's CEO said planning had been underway for a year. The network's first stage will cover the quite fantastic convention center (I was there for SXSWi last year), and nearby hotels and entertainment districts. Parks will be added later. The city has a fiber-optic loop that will provide backhaul.
Madison starts its unwiring: The downtown and nearby university will be covered. Service will be free for at least a month when fully operational. It's being built as a vendor-neutral wholesale network by Cellnet.
Voice, video, and data will cover 140 square miles of Nassau: The service will be deployed by Sawtel using Meru gear, which has a VoIP focus. Behind the Wi-Fi coverage, there will be centralized phone switch options for businesses, too.
Boston tries take two: The mayor convenes a task force to focus on putting more wireless in Boston. Last year's effort with a Wireless Summit produced conversation, but no plan for action.
Cincinnati lets Bells put Wi-Fi in libraries: Some libraries find funds tight, and in those cases, have turned to for-fee providers. Cincinnati's system will have Wi-Fi available, some starting this week, at $4.95 per hour or $9.95 per day. However, subscribers to operator Cincinnati Bell's existing ZoomTown and FUSE customers pay nothing extra.
Grand Rapids has been taking it slow, but has an RFP: The city invited a number of bidders to create test networks almost a year ago in order to see what (and who) works well for them. They've issued an RFP based on these test networks for citywide service. The city wants the equivalent of a franchise fee for providing access to "City buildings, water tanks and cellular towers, parking ramps, street and traffic lights as well as other city-owned facilities including use of the City’s Network operations center, dark fiber, and the underground conduit system." They also enshrine network neutrality in the RFP.
The many tentacles of Tempe stretch south: MobilePro's NeoReach division has unwired much of Tempe, Arizona, as part of a municipally requested network, and will now put Wi-Fi across adjacent Chandler, too. This will create a 110-square-mile contiguous network sharing some equipment for what the company suggests and I would agree is the largest domestic service deployment to date. It will be outstripped by Philadelphia and other cities, but not for many months. (The Philadelphia contract will be signed next month and require citywide access by spring 2007.)
Suffolk County will blanket the region with Wi-Fi: 900 square miles would be covered, but there's no plan yet, just intent. Verizon suggests the public will be disinterested and costs will be higher than expected. Yawn.
Manchester's airport gets T-Mobile service: It'll cost you.
The other Twin City considers a muni network: Minneapolis already has already gone to the semi-finals in bidders to create a fiber/wireless network across its side of the river; now St. Paul considers its own Wi-Fi buildout. The city owns its own utility poles, which makes it easier for them to franchise, they say, than Minneapolis. The first step is a study.
Taipei claims first city in the world to achieve even current level of Wi-Fi coverage: The network is still being built, the Wall St. Journal reports, but it should hit 90-percent completion by summer. The network already includes 3,300 access points and covers half of the 106 square miles of the city. They offered free access during early build out and now charge about US$12 per month for service. The Journal reports that about 6,000 out of 60,000 registered users have opted to pay, and the question is whether there will be enough uptake to justify the investment by winning bidder Q-ware Systems, which has born all the risk.
Chandler, Ariz., considers city-wide network: Adjacent to Tempe, which expects to complete its municipal-spanning Wi-Fi network in February, Chandler would offer free access in some parks, at the university, and downtown, with some limits on time in certain areas. The same firm that is unwiring Tempe will install service in Chandler if the plan is approved.
Pittsburgh postpones downtown Wi-Fi: The merchants group that was to install a downtown Wi-Fi network will wait until July. The group had planned to use Vivato gear and was working directly with the company.
New Haven, Conn., contemplates a citywide plan: A big issue would be that the town is horribly economically disadvantaged so just building a network--given that Yale University has its own smack dab in the middle of town--doesn't help without ancillary programs.
15-year-old prompts free Wi-Fi in Carlisle: The downtown business association in the Borough of Carlisle liked Thomas Blitz's notion of free Wi-Fi downtown. It's in three restaurants--free of charge from PA.net--and more may come. PA.net also put Wi-Fi in the nearby public library.
Phoenix activates airport: The retro-futuristically named Sky Harbor International Airport has free Wi-Fi everywhere but at check-in. The airport is a hop, skip, and a jump from Tempe, which is unwiring entirely.
The state of Maine sets goal for rural broadband: The governor wants to extend broadband to a large portion of rural areas that have none now--places with five people or fewer per square mile by his definition. He also wants ubiquitous cell coverage, which will cost about $55 million. The article oddly omits mention of Midcoast Internet Solutions, which has been using relatively inexpensive off-the-shelf equipment since 1999 to beam broadband all over. They serve a big chunk of Midcoast, which starts about an hour from Portland. (I lived in Midcoast Maine for two years in the early 90s: we still paid extra for Touchtone service back then to give you some idea of the state of telecom.) It does mention Ubiquitair, which serves the Casco Bay (Portland area).
Aurora, Ill., approves muni network: The city was first to electrify and now has $5.6 million budgeted for a municipal wireless network. They'll also spend $7.8 for fiber optic connections among city buildings, which likely replaces a lot of fixed-line recurring costs. The city will use gaming proceeds to service the network debt, but expect it to pay for itself in reduced telecom charges over time.
Farmers Branch, Texas, hires Tempe-unwirer: The 12 square miles of this town near the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport will be lit up with a municipal network by NeoReach. This project explicitly promises voice, data, and video.
Indianapolis airport unwired: AT&T (formerly SBC) has installed its FreedomLink service through this airport. Service is included in FreedomLink plans, or $7.95 per day.
New York City looks at municipal Wi-Fi: There's a bill to create a commission that would study affordable broadband for residents. The bill will be voted on Dec. 21. The mayor hasn't said whether he'll sign it.
Brookline, Mass., considers citywide Wi-Fi: Vendors are being contacted. It won't be free, but it will probably push down prices across the town, says a local wireless advocate. And, incidentally, the city would move its Internet access to the new provider. This is often a footnote in municipal plans, but it's one of the reasons telecos--Verizon in this case--are opposed to the networks. Cities and towns pay incumbents billions for telephone and data access each year; a shift in those lucrative, stable contracts could substantially undermine incumbents' revenue over a relatively short span of time. [link via JOHO the Blog]
Akron will roll out 62 square miles of Wi-Fi/WiMax: They'll mesh Wi-Fi first, and then add WiMax later. The intent is to mix voice, data, and video over the network, but not be tied to Wi-Fi exclusively. There will be both free and for-fee services. The city will have NeoReach Wireless (part of MobilePro) build and run the network using Strix Systems gear, which has upgradable radio slots. That would indicate that backhaul could start with Wi-Fi and move to WiMax with a field ugprade.
Yellowstone Wi-Fi blankets Wyoming city: Cody has Wi-Fi across many parts of the city. The company providing it, TCT West, markets it as Yellowstone Wi-Fi and pays the city a utility pole fee along with power costs. The system cost $100,000 to set up, and the firm charges $6 an hour up to $30 per month. Tourists are expected to drive revenue. TCT West also provides fixed wireless Internet access to residents. Another firm in the nearby town of Powell may provide a similar service there.
Sacramento starts test phase of municipal wireless build-out: The City Hall and Cesar Chavez Plaza will be a testbed for MobilePro Corp., which won a contract to build a test that would--if successful--lead to a 60-square-mile network. The network would serve public safety, municipal worker, and public access purposes. MobilePro will self-fund the project, which is essentially a franchise arrangement that requires two hours of free access per user per day, and 2,000 city accounts. Pete Sessions, the Congressman from SBC/AT&T, is mentioned without the critical fact of his non-blind SBC stock ownership and his wife's job at SBC.
Pretoria plans muni buildout: South Africa will liberate municipalities from the monopoly PTT after the unanimous passage in parliament of The Electronic Communications Bill. The town of Tshwane wants to offer every resident an email address and broadband access by 2010. Very few municipalities are applying for the licenses that would allow them to run telecom/data businesses. Philadelphia is cited as a shining example of public/private partnerships at the end of this piece.
It might be an anachronism, but the recreationist town will have free Wi-Fi courtesy of Cox: The cable company is donating the bandwidth, and city is buying, installing, and maintaining the equipment. No word on whether a butter-churn cam will be added.
It's a dogpile of municipal wireless and hotzone news today across North America.
San Francisco moves to RFP stage: The city initially produced a request for information/proposal (RFI/P) which left them the opportunity to accept plans at that stage or request further details. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the city notified 26 vendors Tuesday that they will issue an RFP later this month incorporating ideas from the RFI/P.
One San Franciscan has written me a number of times to try to draw interest in the fact that substantial portions of proposals were redacted by the vendors and the city allowed this. This reader has filed a number of formal Sunshine Law requests because he interprets the law as not allowing this amount of redaction nor self-redaction by vendors. I am based in Seattle, unfamiliar with the law, and not a political reporter--but I'm still surprised that no one has picked up on this aspect of this story.
Pomona pilot program: This California town had a unanimous city council vote in favor of create a square-mile test project in downtown with Wi-Fi. It doesn't say the service is free, but implies it.
Temecula, Calif., will put Wi-Fi in its Old Town: Wireless Facilities, Inc. (WFI), a company the name of which is appearing increasingly frequently in association with large-scale Wi-Fi bids and installations, will build out this town's Wi-Fi zone by early 2006. They'll use Tropos gear, and enable public safety functions as well as public access. Again, no mention of the network's end-user cost, if any.
Iowa voters chose whether to allow local municipal broadband: 32 municipalities voted on whether to enable a telecom utility run by a town or city, and 17 approved the option. None are committed to build. Qwest and Mediacom (the cable incumbent) spent $1.5 million in commercial time and cash in opposing the intiatives. Proponents spent a fraction. The Des Moines paper offers more insight into the battle, noting that further voting and action are required to start up such utilities, and that other political considerations affected the vote. Twenty-nine cities in Iowa have some kind of telecom or broadband; 54 have voted since 1994 on forming utilities.
Northern Ontario town is tech showcase: Nortel and Bell Canada are using a distant community to test "cutting-edge" technologies...which are unspecified in the press release. But it includes mesh and bringing broadband to a much wider swath of the Township of Chapleau than have had access before.
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.