Think unlimited access to the Internet everywhere you go sounds too good to be true? More and more cities are pushing for free WiFi everywhere. While many communities already offer pockets of Internet service through public WiFi hotspots such as parks or libraries, this new initiative would mean allowing Internet access on every park bench and street corner, citywide. Take a look at three cities that have already implemented this idea of WiFi everywhere:
Santa Clara, California
After many years in development and a few false starts, residents of Santa Clara, California were finally able to access the Internet throughout the city in March 2013. The Internet service is the first of its kind, implemented through digital power utility meters. Santa Clara’s utility company, Silicon Valley Power, installed over 600 of these so-called “smart meters,” which act as channels for WiFi, in streetlights throughout the city. Larry Owens, a Silicon Valley Power manager, told Huffington Post that just a week after installation, the service was receiving over 3,000 users a day.
New York City, New York
Not one to lag behind in technological developments, New York City jumped aboard the “WiFi everywhere” bandwagon in early 2013. According to Time, Google teamed up with officials from a New York City neighborhood to provide a WiFi network. The project cost $115,000 to construct and $45,000 a year to maintain. Though the network does not cover all of Manhattan (or even close — just a 10-block area in Chelsea near the search giant’s NYC headquarters), it’s a step in the right direction. At a press conference at the time, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that he ultimately wants to see WiFi service offered throughout the entire city.
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul, South Korea’s capital city, announced its plans to install citywide WiFi access in 2011, according to Fast Company. The project cost $44 million and included access to the Internet on every sidewalk, park bench, bus, taxi, and subway line. However, this venture wasn’t the first WiFi initiative for Seoul, which boasts a connectivity rate that’s light years ahead of the United States. The capital city already offered wireless service on its subway trains since as far back as 2004 and already had countless hotspots throughout the city years prior to this initiative. The last leg of the journey was to get wireless outside, which required municipal support.
Is it unrealistic to think that WiFi hotspots will become a thing of the past, replaced by broad data coverage available to anyone, anywhere? In light of these cities that have successfully set up widespread WiFi, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Believe it or not, wireless infrastructure is still in its infancy and has plenty of room for growth and change.
Photo credit: Flickr