Urban Fold

Citywide Wi-Fi Plans Abandoned In St. Louis

Joining the ranks of other major American cities like Chicago, San Francisco and Houston, St. Louis has lost its bid to build a citywide wi-fi network. AT&T cites high costs as it pulls out.

"After months of delays, AT&T said Friday that it will scrap its plans to provide free wireless Internet access across the entire city. The network is just too expensive to build."

"Instead, it will a build a pilot project over one square mile of downtown and keep an eye on the fast-changing field of municipal Wi-Fi, a promising technology that's captured the imagination of cities nationwide but fallen flat in almost every one."

"AT&T and St. Louis officials spent 18 months negotiating before reaching a deal in February to connect the city's 62 square miles over the next two years. The company was to provide free wireless Internet service to anyone for 20 hours a month, then charge for more or higher speeds. Aside from giving access to light poles, there was no cost to the city, though it planned to spend about $400,000 a year to buy access to a special public-service network it would use for police and other city services."

"But in the months since the deal was signed, AT&T engineers wrestled with a thorny problem: they couldn't find a cost-effective way to get power to the network of transmitters - likely 50 per square mile - that would carry the signal."

Full Story: AT&T calls off plans for free citywide Wi-Fi

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