WiFi startup proposes free network to San Fran's BART

A WiFi startup is again peddling the idea of free WiFi. W-Fi Rail is negotiating with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to build a free network that can be accessed by riders throughout BART's 104-mile regional rail system. The network would only be free to BART and would be paid for by rider subscriptions and advertising.

Wi-Fi Rail, which says it has four pending patents that have to do with deploying WiFi for use on railways and roads, believes public transit offers a better business case than municipal wireless as the service would have a daily user base, those who commute to work every day. Company CFO Michael Cromar believes that about 20 percent of BART's some 180,000 riders would subscribe to such a service within three years. The monthly fee would range between $20 and $30.

Wi-Fi Rail has been testing the system for about a year on a stretch of track in downtown San Francisco as well as on an outdoor test track. According to Cromar, more than 9,000 people have signed up to use the system and have signed on more than 42,000 times.

To find out more about Wi-Fi Rail and its plans in San Fran:
- check out this article from IDG News Service

Related stories:
- EarthLink officially pulls plug on muni-WiFi business. See this EarthLink story
- MetroFi considers sale and end to muni-WiFi projects. See this MetroFi story