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Networking

This week in wireless

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to make Wi-Fi coverage in the city as ubiquitous as the fog that blankets its neighborhoods.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to make Wi-Fi coverage in the city as ubiquitous as the fog that blankets its neighborhoods. Joining several other municipalities poised to do the same thing, the city recently invited nonprofits and private businesses to bid on the proposed project, which would offer Wi-Fi access over the town's entire 49 square miles, according to Newsom's office.

One of the major goals of the project, according to Newsom's office, is to serve the city's less affluent by providing free or inexpensive wireless service to low-income neighborhoods. To augment that part of the plan, Newsom's office said, Dell and a handful of other computer makers have already agreed to provide free computers to the city's poor.

It's the kind of plan that Intel would like to see more cities adopting. The chipmaker and several corporate partners launched a program aimed at helping cities use wireless networks to better serve their citizens--and perhaps make a little cash on the side.

Thirteen cities are currently participating in the initiative, called "Digital Communities." Its goal is to give cities technical resources and discounts to help them establish or build out their broadband wireless infrastructure so they can better connect with police and fire personnel as well as with public-works employees such as meter readers and building inspectors. The program also educates city leaders on ways they can use their wireless network as a commercial service, by selling access to the system and by providing wireless services to consumers.

Meanwhile, a small wireless Internet service provider in Idaho and a wireless equipment start-up claim to have set a record for transmitting data across a wireless link. Microserv Computer Technologies, based in Idaho Falls, and Trango Broadband Wireless, a fixed-wireless broadband equipment maker, announced that they wirelessly transmitted data over unlicensed spectrum 137.2 miles.

Microserv used gear from Trango to establish the wireless links between two mountaintops in Idaho using the 2.4GHz and 5.8Ghz wireless spectrum. The link was able to transmit an FTP file transfer at the rate of 2.3 megabits per second. The equipment used was not based on standard 802.11 wireless technology, but instead used proprietary radio technology from Trango.