Sacramento Leading on Free Citywide Wi-Fi

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, September 6, 2007

OK, let’s start with the first question on everyone’s mind: When will the wi-fi be ready to use?  Well, that depends on who you ask.  The internet company says its pilot project will cover both downtown and midtown by the end of the month.  The city only expects it to reach Downtown and “the rollout should take place in December.” 
As for covering all of Sacramento, according to the company: 
“We’re looking at having the network in place by the end of the year.”
The city says: by October of 2009. 
But to Sacramento resident Michael Childress, who’s at a Midtown coffee shop with his caffeine and his laptop, free wi-fi is free wi-fi! 
“It would definitely bring me outside of the house and outside of the few locations that actually offer free wi-fi more frequently.”

A different business model might allow Sacramento to succeed where larger cities are failing. 
“We don’t go about using advertising revenue as the primary vehicle for revenue in our company.”
Instead, says Noa Eisenberg with Michigan-based Azulstar, her company finds out exactly how much service the local governments and businesses will need.  And since those tenants are willing to pay for faster service, the company knows that revenue will be there once the system is complete. 
“The deal becomes self-financing, so-to-speak.”
Of course, you didn’t actually think you’d escape all those ads, right?  
“If you’re on the free layer, you’re gonna see advertising throughout the experience,” says Eisenberg.
And the ads will be specifically targeted, says Dean Peckham.  He’s one of the city officials working on the project. 
“If you, for example, happen to live in North Sacramento and you’re interested in shopping in North Sacramento, you’ll actually receive ads for businesses in that community.”
You’ll also have to log on about once an hour, even if you’ve been online the whole time.  If all that bugs you, you can always pay for an ad-free -- and faster -- online experience.