Foster City leads the pack in wireless Internet race

FOSTER CITY — Residents and visitors will soon be able to kick back by the waterfront while surfing the Internet.

Foster City will become the first in the county to launch citywide wireless Internet access anywhere within city limits when it holds its formal “wire-cutting” ceremony Oct. 16, according to Mayor Linda Koelling.

Mountain View-based MetroFi will provide the service, which it already operates in other Silicon Valley cities such as San Jose, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. MetroFi is leasing transceiver space on 100 of Foster City’s light poles at a cost of $36 per pole per year, according to Foster City Administrative Services Director Steve Toler.

“We’re just delighted to see this coming to town,” Toler said.

MetroFi will offer speeds of up to 1 megabyte per second, and the service can be used outdoors on wireless devices, or indoors for residents who want to access the Internet from their desktop computers, according to Chuck Haas, CEO of MetroFi.

“Foster City is progressive in wanting to offer their residents and visitors wireless Internet access,” Haas said, explaining why his company chose to expand its offerings further north.

MetroFi approached the city about providing local wireless Internet access, a proposition the City Council approved in April. The company has not released any information about how many in Foster City are expected to use the new service, and city officials said they did not have that information.

In exchange for the free access, users will be shown a number of advertisements, according to Haas.

Foster City’s move comes well ahead of a regional plan to offer wireless Internet access from Daly City to Gilroy, or San Francisco’s own wi-fi system now in development. San Mateo County Telecommunications Authority officials announced in September that Metro Connect, a joint effort involving Azulstar, Cisco Systems and IBM, had been picked to operate the new regional service on the Peninsula.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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