San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, City Council Member San Liccardo and technology executives cut a ceremonial Ethernet cable on Thursday to kick off a new free Wi-Fi service in part of downtown San Jose.
Reed and Liccardo are participating in a midday news conference outside of City Hall to launch the "Wickedly Fast" network, which will provide Internet download speeds three to four times faster than those of average outdoor Wi-Fi networks, a city spokesman said.
The network will be comparable to fast indoor-based networks, allowing users to stream videos from websites like YouTube, Hulu and Netflix on city sidewalks from their iPads, smartphones and laptops.
"We are able to provide that outdoors -- a wireless network for the way we consume data today," said Vijay Sammeta, acting chief information officer for San Jose.
"What you could only do indoors, you can now do outdoors," Sammeta said.
The venture is a public-private partnership between the city of San Jose and the companies Ruckus Wireless, of Sunnyvale, and SmartWAVE Technologies LLC based in Suwanee, Ga.
San Jose invested about $94,000 into the network and will cover the $22,000 annually needed to maintain it, Sammeta said.
Ruckus provided about $150,000 worth of equipment, while SmartWAVE furnished the engineering side to make sure the network operates at a high speed, Sammeta said.