Silicon Valley government leaders envision a huge regional hotspot, from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, but offer only broad strokes to get there, the Mercury News says. Twenty-four cities and two counties are participating in the plan. Intel is providing tech support.
Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, a coalition of business, education and local government officials, announced Thursday that it would solicit bids to build a network to turn the valley into essentially a giant wireless Internet hotspot.
And what's more the preferred cost is ... free.
Many technology experts consider even the Philadelphia and San Francisco efforts to be risky -- so far, most successful public outdoor wireless projects cover little more than several square blocks. The Silicon Valley project would be larger and more complicated. While the city of San Francisco covers about 47 square miles, the area targeted for Joint Venture's effort is more than 20 times bigger.
Joint Venture will release an official ``Request for Proposals'' in April, but has not decided when it hopes to have a network up and running. Intel's business consulting arm was chosen to write the request. An Intel spokesman said the company had no intention of submitting its own bid to work on the project.
So far there are only broad outlines of a plan -- it's not clear who would pay for the wireless network, how fast it would be, or how far it would reach into buildings.
But Joint Venture did indicate that its member communities hope they won't have to foot the bill.
Naturally, Comcast is against it, citing the unbelievable claim that the free market will eventually provide the service if customers actually want it. But well-known tech consultant Rob Enderle believes it is possible:
Enderle pointed out that the United States lags far behind other countries such as South Korea in terms of ubiquity and affordability of high-speed Internet access. The lag likely is more embarrassing in Silicon Valley, given its reputation as a base for advanced technology.
``If we really want Silicon Valley to not turn into the Rust Belt, we need to be competitive.''