Free outdoor Wi-Fi became a reality for the City of Santa Clara last week, with citywide access launched by Silicon Valley Power (SVP) as part of its SVP MeterConnect program. Santa Clara was the first city in the country to provide free outdoor Wi-Fi access for an entire community as part of an advanced electric meter upgrade program that uses wireless technology to read meters. SVP is the City’s municipal electric utility.
Information about the Wi-Fi access system is available at santaclarafreewifi.com. Users will see the network identifier (SSID) “SVPMeterConnectWiFi” when they log in. SVP expects over 5,000 connections a day.
“This is just one of the major benefits our community will enjoy as a result of our advanced metering technology,” said John Roukema, director of SVP. “Now our residents, visitors and local workforce can get Internet access while waiting for a train, shopping downtown, getting their car washed or relaxing in their yard.”
When advanced meters are installed at residences starting late this year, electricity and water usage information will be highly encrypted and sent via wireless network. Security on this part of the system mimics that of banking and national defense institutions. The technology will also spot outages quickly and help customers monitor their own electricity usage.
The same SVP MeterConnect wireless equipment carries a separate channel for the free, public, and unencrypted outdoor Internet service. Users should be cautious while on any unencrypted Wi-Fi network. Outdoor access is best when unobstructed by trees or buildings and when using higher-powered laptops. The low power signal of smart phones and tablets could limit their Wi-Fi range.
LinkPath Communications directed the design and installation of the wireless system, and is responsible for customer service and maintenance of Santa Clara Free Wi-Fi.
About Silicon Valley Power
Silicon Valley Power (www.siliconvalleypower.com) is the trademark of not-for-profit electric municipal utility of Santa Clara, CA, serving residents and businesses for over 100 years. SVP provides power to more than 50,000 customers, including Applied Materials, Intel, Owens Corning and Yahoo!, at rates 15 to 45 percent below neighboring communities.