Free Outdoor Wireless Network Access for San Jose, CA

Posted by: CK Luther on Thursday, April 18th, 2013

San Jose, the unofficial capital of California’s Silicon Valley, inaugurated a free outdoor wireless network service in March 2013. The high-speed service in the city’s downtown area gives residents and visitors unlimited Wi-Fi access 24 hours a day. Dubbing its network “Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi,” the city’s Economic Development Council declared that this network is North America’s fastest outdoor wireless network — up to four times faster than traditional Wi-Fi.

The network spans an area that encompasses the core of downtown San Jose. In addition to outdoor public areas, the network is also usable at outdoor restaurants. This feature is a boon to people with phones and tablets, allowing them to save data while in the access area.

San Jose’s network does not require a subscription or a password. Users access the Wi-Fi by opening the wireless network locator on any compatible device. When the device finds the “Wicked Fast Wi-Fi” signal, selecting the network completes the connection.

Return to Washington Square Park, Aug 2009 - 22

To make the project a reality, the city provided its existing fiber-optic infrastructure and shared a portion of the city’s wireless bandwidth. The private companies that San Jose chose to assist with implementation are SmartWave Technologies and Ruckus Wireless.SmartWave led the engineering and design portion of the project.

Ruckus has responsibility for enhancing the infrastructure for the outdoor wireless network and providing support services. The company’s leadership notes that its use of “focus beam technology” increases the new network’s speeds well beyond those of networks the city had previously attempted to implement.

San Jose expects the city to operate the outdoor wireless network for less than $25,000 annually. The city plans to use its outdoor wireless network to support administrative functions that benefit taxpayers and visitors. The availability of Wi-Fi outside of City Hall will improve the city’s smart parking system downtown. This feature enhances the city’s revenue operations by providing a high-speed, real-time alternative to Ethernet and wired telecommunications between the electronic meters and City Hall computers.

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