Concord Provides Free Wi-Fi To Residents
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
CONCORD, Calif., Sep. 18, 2007 (KGO) (KGO) -- Bigger isn't always better when it comes to getting things done.
A good example of that can be found in the city of Concord.It's managed to provide many of its residents with a free service that many larger cities, including San Francisco, haven't been able to do yet. While other Bay Area cities struggle to get their systems up and running, in Concord, free wi-fi is just a click away. Concord has quietly become one of the few cities in the Bay Area to get municipal wi-fi off the ground, literally. There are 300 access points, perched atop buildings and light poles around town. "This model is struggling a little bit, but for some reason, the demographics work here in Concord and they're being successful," said Ron Puccinelli, Concord I.T. director. Two-thirds of Concord already has access to the free wi-fi service, including most of this town's residential neighborhoods. The rest of Concord will get coverage next year. "I think it's exciting. I think many of the things that have become fragmented should be unified again, and should be offered by what we call government," said Judy Mattson, Concord wi-fi user. The service is truly free, without any commitment of taxpayer dollars, at least until Concord's five-year agreement with provider Metro-Fi expires. Concord provides access points to Metro-Fi in exchange for free service to the city. The public will see a top-screen advertising banner or pay a fee to get rid of it. Concord inked its deal with Metro-Fi last year, before other cities like San Francisco saw their wi-fi efforts fall flat, as providers pulled out. "What has happened within the past two months is that reality has set in. So you have vendors such as Metro-Fi and EarthLink saying we cannot run a business where we're paying for all these cities networks," said Craig Settles, Municipal wi-fi consultant. According to Oakland wi-fi consultant Craig Settles, the newer business models may require cities to pay a fee for wi-fi services that are then offered free to the public.
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