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San Jose planning free downtown Wi-Fi network, set for debut later this year

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The city of San Jose, California is going to take another crack at public Wi-Fi, with plans to build a new 802.11n network to cover its downtown area later this year.

wi-fi and Bluetooth
wi-fi and Bluetooth

Despite having an earlier effort collapse in 2008, the city of San Jose, California is planning to purchase and deploy a new 802.11n Wi-Fi network in its downtown area. Coming in at a set-up cost of approximately $94,000, the network will depart from the city's prior ad-supported attempt, and will instead be a simple, open network for citizens to join without the need for passwords or splash screens. For San Jose, the city expects to see city employees, fire station offices, and wireless parking meters take advantage of the new service, which will simultaneously provide more flexibility for residents. While officials won't estimate speeds until the network is live and tested, they do expect residents will be sharing up to 1Gbps in bandwidth, with as many as a third of the wireless access points connecting directly to the city's wired network via fiber cable. With an estimated yearly operational cost of $22,000, San Jose will bring in revenue to pay for the network by cutting deals with local companies, allowing them to use the city's network as an extension of their own. San Jose is also considering partnering with cellular carriers — who are consistently looking towards public Wi-Fi as the solution to their own network congestion problems — but city officials stress that no such deals are in place, and that the city is not factoring them into its revenue calculations. The new network is expected to launch in the middle of this year.