Free WiFi service to expand in Washington

Free WiFi service to expand in Washington

The Open Park Project's free, WiFi hotspot on Capitol Hill has drawn support from members of Congress and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration as the organization begins to raise funds for expansion.

Open Park president and co-founder Greg Staple said the next hotspot will be in the center of the National Mall, near the Smithsonian museums. Open Park, a Washington nonprofit organization, launched the Hill hotspot seven months ago [see GCN story].

The organization has letters of support from 20 House and Senate members to negotiate placement of wireless access points at some of the museums. At least one additional free hotspot will be ready by the presidential inauguration, he said.

'Stay tuned,' Staple added. 'We'll have more news at the end of the first week of January.'

Commerce Department assistant secretary and NTIA chief Michael D. Gallagher wrote in a letter to Open Park that 'WiFi and other wireless technologies will play a vital role' in the administration's plan to implement a comprehensive U.S. wireless broadband spectrum policy by 2007.

Open Park's industry supporters are wireless mesh network vendor Tropos Networks Inc. of San Mateo, Calif.; Public Knowledge, a national fair-use organization; and A La Carte Express of Washington.

For information about other wireless networks being built by several dozen U.S. municipalities, check out Open Park's site and a site devoted to municipal wireless and broadband projects.

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