By Eric Auchard
A group of Silicon Valley civic and business leaders don't think the
high-tech center is connected enough. Now they are looking to catch up
to cities around the world that are building region-wide wireless
A coalition including a high-tech civic group, regional governments
and local chipmaker Intel Corp. said they had agreed to a plan to
solicit bids from Internet providers to create a wireless high-speed
data canopy to cover the region.
The wireless coalition, "Smart Valley," is an undertaking of Joint
Venture: Silicon Valley Network, a local civic group, the San Mateo
County Telecommunications Authority and Intel.
Like similar efforts to build municipal wireless networks in
Philadelphia, San Francisco, and other cites, the plan is to seek
proposals from vendors for either fee-based or advertising- supported
plans that do not require local taxpayer funds.
"'Smart Valley' is looking for wireless Internet service providers and
other technology suppliers to come up with a business model or a mix
that pays for the services," Intel spokesman Mark Pettinger told
The plan is to embrace various wireless technologies, from Wi-Fi
short-range networks to wide-area WiMAX and other techniques under one
umbrella that will give residents of the region wireless coverage from
home to work and around town.
"Who provides it, what they provide, when they provide it, how much
they provide it for has not been decided," he said.
For example, consumers would be able to use computers, phones or other
handheld wireless devices to receive information around the
region. Local agencies might track police cars and street sweepers on
the go, or use sensors to be alerted to when a traffic light or sewer
The initiative seeks to create a regional wireless network over a
1,500 square mile area in the high-tech region, stretching from San
Mateo, a city south of San Francisco, to Santa Cruz on the coast of
The wireless coalition selected Intel to develop an initial bidding
process, reflecting its growing focus on wireless technology and its
role in organizing similar projects in Portland, Oregon and Tempe,
The request for proposal process is scheduled to begin in April. Intel
has agreed not to bid on the project. The San Mateo County
Telecommunications Authority, which represents 16 cities, will issue
The Smart Valley group will solicit financial contributions to develop
the plan to cover another 20 Silicon Valley cities. In all, the plan
would stretch across four counties -- Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara
and Santa Cruz.
The towns of Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Menlo Park, Milpitas, Morgan
Hill, Palo Alto, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz -- have already approved
their contribution and are now participants in the project, the
project's backers said.
In November, the city of Mountain View, which is located near the
heart of Silicon Valley, agreed to a plan by Google Inc., the Web
search leader headquartered there, to build a free, citywide wireless
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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