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WiFi plan attracting high-tech car makers
February 15, 2007, 12:00 AM By Dana Yates
A grand plan to equip Silicon Valley with wireless Internet access is much more than WiFi for the average laptop — private companies like those in the auto industry are lining up to be a part of the ground-breaking plan, San Carlos Assistant City Manager Brian Moura said yesterday.

Car companies with local research and development divisions just signed up to be part of the Wireless Silicon Valley plan that seeks to provide broadband services over 1,500 square miles in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The companies are pairing with the regional transportation agencies as the Intelligent Transportations Systems User Group to team their technology with the new plan.

What that means for consumers is that the valley is on the verge of cutting-edge automobile technology. Car companies are already developing and testing what is commonly referred to as smart car technology in our own backyard. The technology means cars could communicate with other cars, alert drivers to risk and help track traffic flow and travel times along local freeways.

"There is a lot more than WiFi going on here,” Moura said.

The technology is dependent on the wireless broadband capability in the area. By teaming private and public agencies, Wireless Silicon Valley stands a better chance of making it work, Moura said.

On Friday, Silicon Valley Metro Connect, a vendor team that includes IBM and Cisco Systems Inc., will begin deployment of a wireless broadband network in a one-square-mile area that includes residential and commercial properties in San Carlos. It will do the same in Palo Alto.

On Tuesday, the city of Los Angeles announced a similar plan to extend over approximately 500 square miles. Officials there have already contacted representatives at Wireless Silicon Valley to ask whether they can send people to San Carlos to test the closed system, Moura said.

The testing period will be on a closed network for approximately 120 days, but will likely be opened to some residents and businesses for testing.

The entire valley is expected to be wired by next year. It will provide outside WiFi for the common user. The service will be provided on tiers ranging from free slower service to fee-based faster service with no advertisements, Moura said.


Dana Yates can be reached by e-mail: dana@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106. What do you think of this story? Send a letter to the editor: letters@smdailyjournal.com.


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