Cities jump on WiFi bandwagon

Two more major cities have announced plans for municipal WiFi systems, indicating the growing sphere of influence WiFi firms have with city officials.

Los Angeles Major Antonio Villaraigosa outlined plans to blanket Los Angeles with WiFi access in 2009--creating what some believe is the largest urban WiFi network covering 498 square miles and costing more than $62 million. Villaraigosa says he plans to create a public-private sector partnership to pay for the network and will start accepting bids as early as this fall.

Likewise, the city of St. Petersburg, FL, has hired Earthlink to build a citywide 60-square mile WiFi network. The network is expected to cost $46.8 million to build and Earthlink will charge customers $21.95 per month to access it.

The Los Angeles Times reports that broadband providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner aren't planning to oppose the WiFi network. And many muni-WiFi networks have struggled to get deployed. San Francisco's muni-WiFi system, in particular, has faced lots of opposition.

For more:
- read this Los Angeles Times story and this St. Petersburg Times story