Outside NY, a plan for one of US' largest Wi-Fi nets

ith 1.5 million residents and 900 square miles, a proposed Wi-Fi network for Suffolk County, NY, would be one of the largest public networks in the country.

With 1.5 million residents and 900 square miles, a proposed Wi-Fi network for Suffolk County, NY, would be one of the largest public networks in the country, the New York Times reports. The system was proposed by county executive Steve Levy, who envisions a systems much like the one Google is building for San Francisco: private industry builds the system at no charge to taxpayers in exchange for selling advertising; a higher speed option is available for an extra fee.

And hey, officials say, there's no need to stop at land's end.

With Suffolk's extensive shoreline and the popularity of boating, officials are even exploring beaming signals over the water. "It's something we're thinking about," said Sharon Cates-Williams, Mr. Levy's information technology commissioner.

As envisioned, the combined area and population of Suffolk's network would make it bigger than any other local network now in existence in the nation, experts say.

Suffolk is a unique locale for a Wi-Fi net, the Times notes.

Suffolk is distinctly different, a sprawling county with heavily developed suburbs, gilded estates, horse farms, semi-rural sections with potato farms and vineyards, strip malls and seashores. It stretches from the office and retail corridor along Route 110 on its western border to the Montauk Lighthouse on the East End and beyond to Fishers Island.

Covering that area would require hundreds or thousands of transmitting devices that cost up to $5,000 each, experts say. The broadcast range varies, and more transmitters are needed in areas of heavy usage. The entire system could cost tens of millions of dollars, experts say.

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