December 20, 2005

Asking “Where’s Boston’s WiFi?” [8:15 am]

Plus a rundown of other programs nationwide: If we’re Tech City, where’s our WiFi? [pdf]

Wireless data networks are being installed free of charge in cities across the nation. But Boston, a city with a reputation for innovation and more than twice the population of some cities already luring big WiFi investments, isn’t among them.

Towns with less than half Boston’s population have gotten companies to pledge millions of dollars for so-called WiFi networks that blanket an entire city, offering little in return except access to light poles and the hope of charging residents and businesses usage fees. Cities like Akron, Ohio, and Tempe, Ariz., and Farmers Branch, Texas, each with populations below 300,000, persuaded a company to spend millions to build the networks, which provide high-speed Internets access to residents and businesses from anywhere in town.

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