Portland, Oregon, Launches Free Wireless Internet Access Service
Dec 05, 2006 News Release
Today, the City of Portland, Oregon, launched the first phase of the "Unwire Portland" city-wide Wi-Fi network project that, when completed, will provide users with free wireless Internet access at 95 percent of the city's indoor and outdoor spaces. Beginning today, free Wi-Fi Internet access is available in areas of downtown Portland centered on Pioneer Courthouse Square, as well as much of the Buckman, Lloyd and Kerns neighborhoods.

Portland's residents and visitors can now enjoy wireless broadband access with speeds comparable to DSL at no cost, using the free advertising-supported wireless service. Portland's public works field personnel and first responders will gain greatly expanded access to wireless network services to facilitate more responsive data communications.

"It's only fitting that Portland, as one of the country's pioneering technology capitals, is one of the first metropolitan cities to offer free Wi-Fi to all citizens," said Portland Mayor Tom Potter.

They mayor's office and the Bureau of Technology Services worked with MetroFi to design and implement the service, which utilizes Wi-Fi mesh network that operates by transmitting data via access points mounted on street light poles throughout the city.

In time, Portland expects to use the wireless cloud to streamline some government services through real-time communication with workers in the field; for example, meters may be read with wireless devices, or citizens could instantly report potholes.

"Almost half of the U.S. population still does not have Internet access at home," said Potter. "Only about 30 percent of youth in the lowest household-income bracket use computers at home as compared to over 90 percent of youth in the highest income bracket.

"I know that Unwire Portland is an important push forward to enhance Digital Opportunity in Portland, and to help us in our goal of achieving equal access to technology and the internet for all of Portland's residents."

The Portland network is expected to be completed by mid 2008.
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