Silicon Valley Gears Up Wireless Plans

With help from Intel and others, goal is to provide coverage among over two dozen cities.
Posted February 1, 2006

David Needle

When it comes to technology, Silicon Valley is loathe to take a back seat to its neighbor to the north, San Francisco.

Last year the city of San Francisco announced plans to offer free Wi-Fi internet service; now its tech neighbor plans to do the same.

Smart Valley, an initiative of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network (JVSVN), the San Mateo County Telecommunications Authority (SAMCAT), and Intel Corp. announced the signing of an agreement to develop a Request for Proposal to design a high-speed wireless data network that will cover all of Silicon Valley.

The Silicon Valley initiative is broader in scope than the City of San Francisco's, covering more than 1,500 square miles, from Fremont in the East Bay, south to Gilroy, over the hill to Santa Cruz, and up the Peninsula to San Mateo, Calif.

The initial response from the Valley municipalities has been good, according to Seth Feary, Smart Valley project manager. He told, "Only one city, Saratoga, has turned us down, and that's a purely residential community which doesn't see a big need for it. I want these cities to sign up because they plan to use it, not just because it's a fad or because everyone else is doing it. This needs to make sense to be sustainable."

One Silicon Valley city, Mountain View, is already well under way with a Wi-Fi project sponsored by Google, which is headquartered there.

"My comment about Google is that I'm absolutely thrilled with what they're doing," said Feary. "My only concern is that it violates the vision we have of a seamless network throughout the Valley, so you don't have to, for example, sign off from one provider and log in to another when you're in Mountain View." He said he plans to talk with Google on resolving the issue.

Intel is working with Smart Valley to develop the Request for Proposal. Once that's issued and evaluated, a vendor will be chosen and implementation can begin, with a goal of implementation by next year.

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