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Wireless not coming to Palo Alto anytime soon

Metro Connect picks San Carlos as sole test site

Last February, Palo Alto was selected as a test site for a wireless effort eventually intended to provide wireless data and Internet service valley-wide.

But that project, like many nationwide, faltered when its four corporate partners, known as Silicon Valley Metro Connect, were unable to generate the necessary funds, said Seth Fearey, vice president and chief operating officer of Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network, a nonprofit organization that promotes regional public-private partnerships.

In late 2007, San Jose-based Covad Communications joined the partnership as a network provider; former provider Azulstar Networks will remain with the alliance but serve a different role, Fearey said.

Covad said it could only manage one test site and selected San Carlos, rather than Palo Alto, because the city is already a Covad customer and San Carlos provides the desired mix of potential business customers, Fearey said.

Covad plans to target its service to small businesses, which will pay for the service, Fearey said. Last year, the project planned to focus on public and private entities that have employees outdoor or on-the-go.

Mayor Larry Klein said Palo Alto would have liked to be selected as a test site, but that it wasn't a major disappointment.

"This isn't about testing. This is about having a system" that is open to the public, Klein said.

The original intention of the Wireless Silicon Valley project -- initiated more than three years ago by a group of 40 communities and agencies -- was to provide basic wireless access for the public, with additional services available for a fee.

But that might not be feasible.

"We have always said we want the provider to have a sustainable business model. If it turns out the larger vision is not sustainable, we have to confront that reality," Fearey said. "We want it, but since we're not paying any money, we can't force it."

After the three-month San Carlos test, Metro Connect might explore broadening the number of services and the geographic area served, Fearey said.

Metro Connect, an alliance of IBM, Cisco Systems, Azulstar Networks and SeaKay, won the contract for the Wireless Silicon Valley project in September 2006.

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Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm

I predict that within the next ten years, wifi will become a utility that is provided to each city just like water, electricity and gas. How it comes will probably be different for city to city, but it will have to be paid for somehow.

The Mountain Views that are providing it free may have to start charging at some stage and to up the quality but at least they have made a start.

We, as usual, are stuck in the dark ages.


Like this comment
Posted by Behind the Times
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2008 at 10:47 pm

I read recently that Japan has invented a WiFi system using satellite technology maybe this is the wave of the future. Meanwhile, many cities, towns and villages in Europe are gearing up with WiFi. The rest of the world is way ahead of us, and we think we're the still the IT center of the world!!! Wake-up Silicon Valley!!!




Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 9, 2008 at 11:02 pm

Behind the Times is exactly right. This is going to hit us VERY hard as other nations keep building infrastructure, and USING infrastructure in ways that create new ways of doing business. That's happening right now. Within some short number of years, America will find itself at the receiving end of commercial assaults coming from overseas enterprises that have figured out some nifty ways to do commerce, over and above the obvious stuff we're doing online today.

The FCC has been the major telco's and cable company's pet dog for years. Essentially, on this issue, Americans have been screwed over by special interests, and their government.


Like this comment
Posted by It's In The Air
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2008 at 4:41 am

> The Mountain Views that are providing it free may
> have to start charging at some stage

Actually, Google is providing this service for free in Mountain View for the first five years. What will happen after that is up to the City and other interested parties. Maybe Google will continue providing the service, maybe not.




Like this comment
Posted by It's In The Air
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2008 at 5:45 am

> I read recently that Japan has invented a
> WiFi system using satellite technology

Not exactly true. The Japanese have recently launched a satellite to provide fairly high bandwidth (1.2 gbps), which is not WiFi. But there are complications--the satellite is in geosynchronous orbit, meaning that there is an inherent ~.25 second delay (latency) in getting radio signals to/from the satellite. This will make this sort of link less than desirable for VoIP, for instance.

The news articles are vague about the actually number of 1.2 gbps channels the satellite will be offering. If it only provides one, this is not a lot for a regional Internet service. Costs for the ground antennae have not been discussed in these articles, nor the monthly fee-for-service.

All-in-all, it's a little too soon to be bowing to "Japanese Superiority" in this area.



Like this comment
Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2008 at 11:54 am

Palo Alto started a "Undergrounding of power lines" program in the 1960's. They apparently cant figure out how to do this citywide althought the technology has been around for over about 100 years. It is in certain "select" neighborhoods where politically connected people live (like where Rosenbaulm ?,who is on the utility comittee)and the people who dont have underground power are paying for it in these "Select"neighborhoods.

Having fiber to the home and computerized traffic signals have been talked about for many years but nothing happens. Politics, Politics and special interests, etc, keep things from happening here.


Like this comment
Posted by DontWantPAWiFI
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 10, 2008 at 6:05 pm

I am glad that PA doesn't have city-wide WiFi, have you ever tried to log on to the internet in Mtn View. It's slower than molasses. I'm happy to pay for fast internet until the technology gets better.


Like this comment
Posted by What do others think?
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 10, 2008 at 9:32 pm

I agree: most people in Palo Alto are wealthy enough to pay for their own internet. Although it'd be neat, there are more pressing needs to worry about.

Here's my prediction though: Wifi will become much like TV. (Free if you have an antenna, but much better if you pay for either cable or Satellite.)


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 11, 2008 at 7:01 am

I live between 2 sets of utility overheads, and it has not adversly affected me. Those people offended by the sight of wires can purchase a baseball cap that will limit their view of overhead for far less than the cost and upkeep of undergrounding.


Like this comment
Posted by Better Safe Than Sorry
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2008 at 2:24 pm

There's a lot of information coming out right now about the toxicity of wireless, any sort of wireless. Until there's a way of sending digital info that has NO associations with health risk, it's better to avoid it. If it's broadcast citywide there's no place for sensitive folks to go. Palo Alto is a special place - keep it healthy too!


Like this comment
Posted by Edward Perez
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 30, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Even downtown Campbell has free WiFi and many of the businesses there offer it free as well. I can sit in my parked car and pick from several different providers.


Like this comment
Posted by Edward Perez
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 30, 2008 at 6:04 pm

In regard to the toxicity of digital transmissions, I know nothing about this, but if it is so, what about the television conversion this coming Feb? Where are you going to hide from that?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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