What suburban Milpitas, Calif., lacks in size, it makes up for in wireless access.
Because of a March 22 decision by its City Council, residents of the 14-square-mile patch of Silicon Valley will have two wireless networks to choose from.
Internet provider EarthLink, of Atlanta, Ga., plans to charge $20 a month for access to its network.
Meanwhile, wireless Internet provider MetroFi, of nearby Mountain View, Calif., plans to offer free, ad-supported wireless Internet connectivity.
“We wanted people to have the whole gambit, free or $20 a month,” said Milpitas Economic Development Manager Diana Whitecar.
Milpitas serves as the latest example of how Internet service providers and other big technology names are focusing on unwiring smaller towns with Wi-Fi, the popular wireless standard that is now a staple in laptops and other kinds of electronics.
There are scores of small cities found in a recent list of the top unwired cities in America. The list was compiled by computer chip maker Intel.
It seems that in smaller towns and cities, Wi-Fi wannabes are meeting with a more nimble bureaucracy, plus theres no resistance from incumbent broadband providers as found in large cities.
These factors help Wi-Fi providers win over small town USA with what amounts to very aggressive tactics. For example, both EarthLink and MetroFi courted Milpitas with an unsolicited proposal to unwire the town.
Internet search provider Google took the same aggressive approach in neighboring Mountain View, where its now testing wireless Internet service.
Milpitas also serves as good example of the proliferation of wireless networks in small town USA.
Within driving distance of Milpitas is Mountain View, and Googles free Net access, as well as MetroFi-operated networks in nearby Santa Clara, Cupertino and Sunnyvale.