A city in California has joined forces with one of the nation’s leading online social media corporations to beef up its free public Wi-Fi network.
San José announced April 13 that it has entered into a public-private partnership with Facebook, Inc., through which the media giant will install Terragraph, its wireless distribution network, in the city’s downtown core. The network will use a system of distribution nodes to connect high-speed fiber that uses 60 GHz, also known as V-band, to strengthen the city’s existing outdoor wireless signal, which can be blocked or degraded by buildings and other physical barriers and during high-use periods, the city said.
Facebook will provide the necessary software and install the necessary the software and hardware, which includes shoe-sized metal boxes that will be affixed atop the city’s streetlights. The company then will feed the city’s high-speed fiber optic cables into the boxes to transmit wireless data signals from one box to the next, circumventing traffic, crowds and buildings, reported The Mercury News. The city will not have to pay for installation but will provide free access to the streetlights and staff time to ensure Facebook can access its Wi-Fi system, said Vijay Sammeta, San José s chief information officer.
The system will not be as fast as high-speed fiber networks, but Facebook’s system is easier and less expensive to install than trenching streets to install fiber-based Internet services, said Facebook spokesman Derick Mains.
Facebook first tested Terragraph at its Menlo Park campus and plans to launch the San José pilot later in 2016. If the pilot is successful, it may be deployed more widely downtown in 2017 and even expanded for indoor use. San José and Facebook also are considering installing the system in underserved city neighborhoods and in transit corridors.
“This project is yet another example of San José’s commitment to becoming a true ‘Demonstration City’ and deploying the latest innovations and technologies in ways that can significantly benefit our community,” said Shireen Santosham, the city’s director of innovation. We look forward to expanding on our partnerships with the private sector to ensure we’re continually improving the ways in which we serve the public.”