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City Gets Free Wi-Fi Everywhere – Inside and Outdoors

By Alexandra Ward   |   Thursday, 28 Mar 2013 09:03 AM

Residents of Santa Clara, Calif., will now be able to access the Internet anywhere in the city, thanks to Silicon Valley Power's new free Wi-Fi program launched this week.

As part of its SVP MeterConnect program, the power company will install wireless, digital "smart meters" on homes that will serve as channels for free outdoor Wi-Fi as well as traditional electric meters.

"This is just one of the major benefits our community will enjoy as a result of our advanced metering technology," John Roukema, director of SVP, said in a statement. "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."

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SVP expects more than 5,000 user connections a day when the meters are installed later this year. The technology will also allow residents to spot outages more quickly and monitor their electricity usage.

Though many towns around the country offer free Wi-Fi, the service is generally limited to pockets around hotspots, such as a public library or park.

Google recently debuted New York City's largest contiguous free public Wi-Fi in a 10-block section of Chelsea near one of the search giant's offices.

Some experts worry though that the Santa Clara meters could cause a breach of privacy.

"If they do privacy right, residents have nothing to do but rejoice," Sascha Meinrath, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Open Technology Institute, told The Associated Press. "If they don't, you could see some serious malfeasance down the road."

Santa Clara's new free Wi-Fi initiative proved popular on Twitter.

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