http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/01/18/wifi-for-danville


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - January 18, 2008

WiFi for Danville?

Some residents think it would be a draw

by Natalie O'Neill

Web surfing while shopping. Googling over a grilled cheese. Posting on a park bench.

Advocates of adopting free municipal WiFi Internet in Danville say it would pull people into the town to shop, eat and play.

"I know this could benefit Danville. It could blossom into something that would be good for all kinds of people," said 30-year resident Susan Ritner, who broached the subject at this month's Mayor's Morning.

The council looked into putting WiFi downtown about a year ago, but vendors were not able to install it for free. Businesses would have needed to install their own Internet router and likely bear the cost.

Mayor Candace Andersen said bringing wireless to Danville is a subject the Town Council is still open to exploring - especially as technology develops.

"It's certainly very appealing to us, assuming the price is right," she said this week. She added she thinks the town is "tech savvy."

A handful of metropolitan areas already offer free citywide wireless service, a trend that starting popping up about four years ago. But experts say significant technical and business issues must be hammered out before it can become a reality for most places.

In Alamo, Yellow Wood Coffee's wireless Internet is free and the shop is usually packed with patrons drinking coffee, eating lunch and using laptops. At Starbucks in Danville, users must pay to access Internet.

"The coffee shops in Alamo are using it and they are always filled," Ritner said.

Free wireless makes downtown Alamo more appealing for locals who work from their computer or just want Internet with their coffee, Yellow Wood regulars say.

Take Alfonso Li, for example. He lives near El Pintado Road - about halfway between downtown Alamo and downtown Danville - and he drives to Alamo instead of Danville for the free wireless at Yellow Wood.

While sitting at his laptop at the coffee shop this week he said he likes the feel of Danville better, but the wireless is the deciding factor.

"It's something that would draw me more into downtown Danville," he said.

Free WiFi is available at the Danville Library, which gets the second highest wireless use of all libraries in the county. It can be accessed on personal computers with a wireless card.

"I definitely see a lot of laptop users. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback," said Danville branch librarian Seng Lovan.

The Town Council is having a goal-setting session in February and Andersen said the topic of WiFi may be included.

"It's something I think we will continue to revisit," she said.

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