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S.F. Bay Area tops in wireless cities survey

The Bay Area offers more untethered Internet connectivity than other urban areas, as wireless access sweeps through U.S. cities, airports and college campuses.

The San Francisco Bay Area took top honors in a survey of cities that offer the most wireless Internet connectivity as the trend of increasing wireless access swept through U.S. cities, airports and college campuses.

That's one of the finding's of Intel's second annual "Most Unwired Cities" survey. According to the results, the Bay Area--including San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose--took over the top spot from last year's No. 1, which was the Portland, Ore.,/Vancouver, Wash., area. The survey ranked the top 100 U.S. cities.


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The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by Orange County, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; Portland; Seattle; Bergen, N.J.; Middlesex, N.J.; San Diego; and Denver.

The point of the survey is to demonstrate how quickly hot spots--public areas where wireless networks have been installed that allow Wi-Fi device owners to connect and share resources such as a broadband Internet connection--are being installed. Hot spots were initially set up haphazardly and were part of a grassroots effort to give communities free wireless broadband access to the Internet. But more and more companies have been installing secure networks and charging for the service.

"These surveys provide a snapshot of how the technology is being installed and where," said Anand Chandrasekher, vice president of the mobile platforms group at Intel. "Clearly there are a lot of investments being made and we want to show that the technology is evolving and being more widely adopted."

Intel has invested heavily in promoting Wi-Fi wireless networking technology, committing some $300 million to marketing its Centrino bundle of chips, which include a Pentium M processor, chipset and Wi-Fi chips.

The complete list of the top 100 can be found on the Intel site. The company also listed the top "unwired" college campuses and airports. Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were tops in their respective fields.

The rankings in the surveys were scored on a 100-point scale based on the number of commercial and public hot spots installed, number of people, number of computers, Internet penetration and amount of traffic.

The surveys were conducted by Bert Sperling, a researcher known for his "Best Places" surveys.