The City Council of San Antonio has approved a plan to build a municipal wireless network serving the city’s downtown area, according to an Associated Press report quoting the Herald Democrat.
Under the plan, the city of San Antonio will partner with AT&T (News - Alert) to install the network. City officials will use an 18-month trial period to determine how to eventually expand the network citywide, the report said.
Mayor Phil Hardberger was quoted as saying, “On the technological front, this is really going to drive the city forward, although this is only a test, I have no doubt it’s something that eventually will become permanent.”
Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi and El Paso are among the Texas cities working to establish some degree of Wi-Fi service, while San Antonio joins hundreds of cities across the nation and Texas in their quest to build wireless Internet networks, the report said.
AT&T is offering the general public in San Antonio free Internet access during the trial period for users who will accept speeds of 200 kbps, much slower than its lowest tier of wired broadband service. AT&T will charge for access at 1 Mbps, the speed of wired broadband service.
City officials were quoted as saying the project will help them determine the cost of running a citywide wireless network and help determine whether they should split the project with a private company. They added that if they pursued the test project on its own, they would spend $500,000 on gear and maintenance.
Under the demonstration plan, AT&T is providing the equipment and maintenance, and will keep revenues from access fees.
San Antonio’s chief information officer Richard Varn was quoted as saying a citywide network would help provide Internet access to those without while also giving the city an operational tool to improve efficiency.
Calvin Azuri is a contributing writer for TMCnet
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