SAN JOSE (BCN)
San Jose city officials and technology executives Thursday announced the launch of a free outdoor high-speed Wi-Fi network for public use within about a seven-block radius of downtown San Jose.
City Councilman Sam Liccardo, whose District 3 includes downtown, said that the system would give San Jose “the fastest public outdoor Wi-Fi in North America.”
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said that city’s investment in the venture — funded in part by private businesses — was modest and the city itself can access it to monitor things like parking meters and public garages.
“It was great to get use of it for city stuff, too,” Reed said.
Reed and Liccardo attended a midday news conference outside of City Hall to kick off what officials dub the “Wickedly Fast” network.
Also on hand were the chief executives of two firms that partnered and invested with the city in the network, Selina Lo of Ruckus Wireless, located in Sunnyvale, and Al Brown with SmartWAVE Technologies, based outside Atlanta.
The outdoor Wi-Fi system delivers Internet download speeds three to four times faster than average outdoor Wi-Fi networks in other cities, said Vijay Sammeta, the city’s acting chief information officer who coordinated the project.
The network’s download speed of 10 megabits per second is comparable to fast indoor-based networks, Sammeta said.
Users in the service area can stream videos from websites like YouTube, Hulu and Netflix on city sidewalks from their iPads, smartphones and laptops, Sammeta said.
“We are able to provide that outdoors — a wireless network for the way we consume data today,” Sammeta said.
“What you could only do indoors, you can now do outdoors,” Sammeta said.
The coverage area is about seven square blocks downtown, including City Hall, the San Jose Museum of Art, the San Jose Chamber of Commerce and the western edge of the San Jose State University campus.
The area borders West St. James Street to the north, Alamden Boulevard to the west, South Sixth Street to the east and West San Fernando Street to the south.
San Jose invested about $94,000 into the network and will cover the $22,000 needed each year to maintain it, Sammeta said.
Ruckus provided about $150,000 for equipment, while SmartWAVE furnished the engineering side to make sure the network operates at a high speed, Sammeta said.
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