Paris planning for citywide Wi-Fi

The City of Lights wants to be the most connected capital city in the world by the end of 2007.

PARIS--Paris wants blanket wireless Internet coverage by the end of 2007, helping to make it the most connected capital city in the world, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said Tuesday.

Under a new plan, the city hopes to set up 400 free Wi-Fi access points next year and allow Internet service providers to install antennae on strategically located public property.

"We will act fast and firmly...to create the most favorable conditions for Paris," Delanoe told reporters at city hall. "It is a decisive tool for international competition and thus important for the city."

The plan also calls for slashing taxes on companies that lay down fiber optic cables in a drive to have 80 percent of all buildings within the city connected to so-called 'ultra-high speed' fiber optic networks by 2010.

"Sixty percent of Parisian households already have high-speed connections...Our goal will be not only to maintain this but also to move a step ahead," Delanoe said.

License fees for fiber optic cables already snaking through the city's sewer system would be cut by 25 percent, and the tax break would go up to 90 percent for the first 400 meters of new cables that branch out to connect buildings currently lacking the high-speed lines.

The free wireless access points--to be located in parks, squares, libraries, and public areas--will be set up by private firms that win contracts to be awarded in early 2007.

The project will also experiment with free Wi-Fi access for an entire city quarter by the end of 2007.

Delanoe said he would be submit the plans for city council approval early next week.

Story Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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