NJ counties expected to get OK to pursue wireless networks

NJ bill passes Assembly committee, moves to floor vote. Companion bill introduced in state Senate.

New Jersey lawmakers are pushing forward legislation that would authorize counties to build and operate wireless networks for public use, NorthJersey.com reports. A bill in the state Assembly was voted out of committee and is heading for a floor vote soon, said a spokesman for Assemply Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, who sponsored it.

The bill would authorize counties to construct, own and operate the equipment needed to provide free or reduced-rate public access to wireless networks. The measure would allow the networks to be financed through the issuance of local bonds to be repaid through revenues derived from providing the service.

Some cities and counties are chomping at the bit to get started. Camden and Gloucester counties started in December exploring plans for a network that could make homes, businesses and public spaces in both counties Internet accessible. The city of Elizabeth has partnered with Kean University and two private providers in a pilot program to provide free Wi-Fi service at certain high-traffic points in the city.

A companion bill in the Senate has been introduced but not yet voted on by committee.

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