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Consortium Wins Bid to Build Silicon Valley Wi-Fi Network

September 07, 2006|From the Associated Press

A proposal to blanket 1,500 square miles of Silicon Valley with affordable wireless Internet access stepped closer to reality after a joint task force selected a consortium to build and operate the network.

Silicon Valley Metro Connect, which includes Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corp., said late Tuesday that it secured the bid from the Wireless Silicon Valley Task Force.

Further approvals by individual municipalities need to be worked out, however, before the wireless network becomes a reality. The project is designed to serve the region's 2.4 million residents.

Dozens of other communities across the United States, including San Francisco, also are planning similar public wireless networks, but the Silicon Valley project would be one of the largest in scope.

The Wireless Silicon Valley Task Force, composed of local government officials and representatives from utility companies, is proposing a network of thousands of radio transceivers that could carry Internet signals from South San Francisco all the way south through Santa Cruz.

The project would essentially create a Wi-Fi hot spot like those found at many airports and coffee shops, only many times larger.

Metro Connect said its network, which would be privately owned and operated, would be financed through sponsorships, giving residents in the region free access to basic Wi-Fi service at broadband speeds.

Additional features, however, such as Internet-based phone calls or streaming video, would carry some fees. Pricing for the paid services have not yet been determined.

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