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Sacramento Goes Wireless

Fri, 06/22/2007 - 9:23am
Brad Smith

The Sacramento City Council has approved a privately-financed city-wide Wi-Fi network, with basic service provided free through advertising support. The network, under a contract with a consortium called Sacramento Metro Connect, will be one of the largest municipal Wi-Fi networks in the country.

Sacramento Metro Connect was created by Azulstar, Cisco Systems, Intel and SeaKay. The consortium says the Wi-Fi network will cover 90 square miles and potentially serve 400,000 Internet users. Basic service, made possible through ad support, would be free with additional features such as VoIP or video streaming, coming with a fee.

"The City of Sacramento is very excited about the opportunity to provide wireless Internet access to our residents, visitors, and businesses," Sacramento Councilmember Rob Fong said following last night's council vote.

Construction on the network is expected to start in September, with project completion in about two years. There are about 80 cities in the United States either deploying or planning to deploy Wi-Fi networks but few of them are the size of Sacramento.

Part of the deal calls for the City of Sacramento to buy its Internet service from the consortium, while the city will allow the consortium to install infrastructure on city-owned light poles and other facilities.

Azulstar is the project lead and will own, operate and deploy the network, including its design, billing and maintenance. Cisco will provide the network hardware and outdoor wireless mesh infrastructure. Intel provides advisory support, and SeaKay will handle community outreach.

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