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.