Tempe, Arizona, is the first city to launch a full city-wide wireless Internet network. According to CNET News, the network is comprised of over 700 wireless access points attached to light poles around the city. It serves the cityis 160,000 residents with 1Mbps download speeds.
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said that residents "can change their work space by going to a coffee shop or going out to our two-mile-long lakeshore and enjoying life as they work."
In addition to serving the people in the area, the network will also let emergency services monitor dangerous situations. Some city vehicles will be outfitted with Wi-Fi antennas so police and fire officials can determine if additional personnel are needed at fires, accidents, and other incidents.
Police Detective Joe Retowski said officers use the network to download mug shots, and arial pictures when they are looking for lost children or suspects. He stated "It helps you make quicker and better decisions."
The city is still working out some of the kinks. Right now, most residents canit pick up the network signal unless they are outside. The limited indoor access may be keeping many residents from subscribing to the service. So far, only about 650 residents have signed up.
Other cities in the United States, including Denver, Colorado, have built smaller wireless networks that cover limited geographic areas.