Will Someone Please Make Seattle Wireless?

Rally the troops. Hire Tim Eyman. Seattle (and Bellingham) needs to ride Chicago's coattails and provide city-wide free wireless Internet.

According to an AP story I read at Seattle P-I.com, Chicago city officials want to cover the city's 228 square miles with a wireless blanket. The system could be running as soon as 2007. Currently, the biggest Wi-Fi network is the all-free MetroFi in the south San Francisco Bay area at 35 square miles, which the Chicago proposal would dwarf.

"We think it's important for residents of the city and tourists and businesses to have lots of different ways to connect," says Chris O'Brien, Chicago's chief information officer. "For a city as big as Chicago, with the vibrant business community and diverse citizen base that we have, you want to make sure all kinds of technology are available to them as they work and enjoy entertainment options."

Other cities that have created Wi-Fi proposals in the last few months includee: Portland, Ore.; San Francisco, Anaheim, Pasadena and Long Beach, Calif.; Denver and Aurora, Colo.; Minneapolis; Milwaukee; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Pittsburgh; Arlington, Va.; and Brookline, Mass.

Where's Seattle on that list? C'mon, we're close to being as socially liberal as San Francisco and getting beat to the podium by Portland is like losing to the junior varisty team.

Reasons why Seattle should offer free Wi-Fi:

  • We're supposed to be the nation's tech hub (Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing) so we might as well act like it.
  • It would attract businesses and residents to stay in cities, rather than move out and continue the suburb sprawl.
  • Bill Gates & Co. might throw some dollars out at the project.
  • Tourists like Wi-Fi
  • Paolo likes Wi-Fi