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Long Beach Offers WiFi As Public Service

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Important conceptual breakthrough – Long Beach, CA offers a free public high-speed wireless Internet network:

    Web surfers in the cafes along the four blocks of the city’s Pine Avenue thoroughfare, within walking distance of the local convention center, can now log on free to a wireless WiFi network set up by the city and a group of technology companies, the city said on Monday.

    WiFi, also known as 802.11b, is the most popular high-speed wireless Web technology.

    It is used in homes and businesses and slowly expanding into public areas, largely due to the efforts of telecommunications companies like Deutsche Telekom’s (DTEGn.DE) T-Mobile U.S.A., which have set up pay-as-you-go networks at coffee shops and airport lounges.

    But many Internet advocates see WiFi as a free resource that will spread guerrilla style throughout the country.

    Long Beach found that after setting up the partnerships it could offer the service for a cost to the city of about $3,000 per year.

    “The extra business if nothing else is certainly going to offset that,” said Bruce Mayes, a city economic development official who is project manager for the wireless zone. The portal also gives information on Long Beach businesses and facilities. [Reuters]

Perhaps free public WiFi, i.e. Internet access, will come to be seen as a municipal responsibility, and for anything close to the pittance of $3000 per year, why not?

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