Gas, water, sewer … wireless?

I need to do a little research on municipal wireless networks, so here’s the start: Om Malik reports that

Dianah Neff, the technology czar and champion of Wireless Philadelphia is going to leave her job, and return to the private sector … Neff, 57, is a viewed as one of the foremost authorities on Municipal Wireless Networks, and is likely to find a long list of suitors for her talents. There is a dearth of MuniFi experts.

According to a Washington Post story in October 2005, Philadelphia’s plan would result in “the biggest municipal wireless Internet system in the nation.”

From the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday:

The city awarded a contract to the Atlanta-based EarthLink company a few months ago, but Wireless Philadelphia — which entails putting thousands of transmitters on light poles — isn’t expected to be up and running until sometime next year.

Philadelphia is far from being the only big community wireless project in the works. The blog MuniWireless covers a lot of different efforts that are under way, up and running, or just in the blue-sky phase. The blog reports that 247 such networks exist now. A municipal-owned wireless broadband network might offer free service or some version of pay-as-you-go service.

When I travel, I try to find free wireless hotspots so I can keep up with my online life. But in some places, it can be hard to find an free sites. Budget motels often provide free wireless nowadays, but the big convention hotels (like the one I’m in right now) charge $12.95 PER DAY for Internet access — sometimes wireless, sometimes Ethernet. (I think that’s ridiculous.)

Get a great overview of U.S. municipal wireless efforts at InfoWorld.

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One Comment on “Gas, water, sewer … wireless?

  1. Another good site for following the news in this area is Glenn Fleishman’s Wi-Fi Networking News. He covers not only the munis, but stuff like hotels, airlines, airports, retail establishments, etc.

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