Tempe to be 1st U.S. city to offer all Wi-Fi Internet

Katie Nelson The Arizona Republic Nov. 29, 2005 12:00 AM

On the surface, there isn't much Tempe has in common with Macedonia.

After all, the Virginia-size country south of Serbia and north of Greece is for most intents and purposes halfway around the globe.

But officials at a ceremony Monday pointed out the two now have something cutting edge in common: They'll soon have wireless Internet capable of serving all their citizens. And they'll both be among the first governments to offer it in the world.

Tempe is the first city in the nation to be wireless border to border; Macedonia is the first country to go wireless in all its cities and towns, according to Strix Systems, a company facilitating the installations.

Mayor Hugh Hallman snipped a long piece of blue wire in half Monday afternoon with a huge pair of red-handled scissors.

Those attending said that his cutting of the cable signified not only the official start of the United States' largest municipal wireless Internet system but also the future of technology.

To thrive and grow, businesses must move beyond the wire, Cox Vice President Kevin Moran said.

"This is how Tempe is and is becoming a place where people want to move and live," he added.

U.S. Sen. John McCain sent his regards in the form of a video message to the crowd of about 80 who gathered at the Town Lake's Tempe Beach Park.

He said he is advocating for Internet access for all in Congress, and he'll use Tempe as the "best example in America" of public and private sectors working together to make wireless Internet available.

"You are looking at the future of Internet in America today in beautiful Tempe, Arizona," McCain said in the recording.

The Tempe network will reach more than 65,000 households, 1,100 businesses and 50,000 students.

Computer users have been able to access the city's wireless system for the past several months while they're downtown or on Arizona State University's campus. They're able to get two hours of access free every 24 hours.

By February wireless Internet users can access the system from all over the city. It's going up in five phases: Workers are installing it in north Tempe now and will move south over the coming weeks.

Users can access it for an hourly or monthly fee using signals from more than 400 antenna and radio boxes hooked to streetlights and buildings throughout the city.

For more information, go to .

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