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San Jose fires up free Wi-Fi network

Fri, 03/15/2013 - 2:23pm
Brian Santo

The city of San Jose has fired up the free public Wi-Fi network had been building for its downtown. The service is being called the Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi Network.

Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilmember Sam Liccardo (District 3) used a chainsaw to cut through a (fake) Ethernet wire to inaugurate the service.

The network was built by SmartWAVE Technologies using 802.11n Wi-Fi products from Ruckus Wireless. Over the past year, Ruckus SmartWAVE have been providing equipment and ongoing technical and engineering support to the City’s IT Department, the companies said.

Ruckus Wireless CEO Selina Lo said smartphone users will be able to get connection rates of anywhere from 2 to 3 megabits per second, which she said would be “easily” three to four times faster than any other public network service.  

Outdoor access points are deployed on light poles and indoor 802.11n access points were installed at various other locations. The majority of the APs are connected to a gigabit fiber network that terminates at an Internet peering point called the Metropolitan Area Exchange, West (MAE-West).

Management of the wireless network will be centralized at City Hall, allowing a single point of visibility, control and tuning of the Wi-Fi network.

The Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi Network project had a one-time cost of about $94,000 ,with ongoing costs of approximately $22,000, the companies said. This project is being funded through parking revenue and the City’s General Fund.

The network is being used to connect the city’s downtown parking meters.

Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi is accessible through the downtown core, an area that’s roughly 10 blocks on a side.

The city’s acting chief information officer, Vijay Sammeta, said, “We’re bringing unbelievably fast Internet access to downtown. The Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi Network will bring to life the City’s vision of reliable, free Wi-Fi. It’s also the first step in building a community area network that supports government, business and the public’s needs through a single infrastructure.”

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