Sacramento Ready (Again) for Wi-Fi

Sacramento Ready (Again) for Wi-Fi

By Eric Griffith

June 22, 2007

California’s latest city to approve a muni Wi-Fi contract will work with Azulstar, Cisco and Intel.

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The Metro Connect consortium of Azulstar, Cisco, Intel and SeaKay has landed the contract to build Wi-Fi across 90 square miles of Sacramento, California. The city council approved the agreement last night.

Sacramento previously had a contract with MobilePro Corp. of Bethesda, Maryland, but last summer MobilePro pulled out of the deal, even after the city held a “cutting the wire” ceremony. The reason for the pullout? Sacramento wanted a network with free access for users.

This time, the California capitol will get what it wants on the network in the form of an advertising-sponsored free access layer for general use. Residents and businesses will pay a subscription fee, especially for extras like VoIP services. The network will also support municipal applications — probably features like wireless meter reading.

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The Extreme Automated Campus: Fabric, Policy, Management, and Analytics Sacramento Metro Connect is its own mini corporation created to own and run the network, which will be paid for by private means, not with public funds. Azulstar will own, operate and design the network using Cisco mesh equipment. SeaKay will handle community outreach, such as using the network for education and economic development. Intel is an adviser.

Installation will start with a “concept phase” in September — roll-out begins in earnest late this year. When it’s all done, the network should have the potential to hit 400,000 users.

Another version of Metro Connect is behind the plans to unwire all of Silicon Valley (albeit with IBM in that group, not Intel). The first two cities announced for the concept phase there were Palo Alto and San Carlos, but they weren’t ready by the end of May. Local reports say the plan to blanket 40 cities with Wi-Fi is “mired in delays.” The same group was an early bidder for the contract in San Francisco, but lost out to EarthLink and Google, a deal that hasn’t worked to well for the winners yet, either, as they face delay after delay due to political infighting and citizen complaints.

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