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Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 06 September 2006 16:27
Cisco, IBM team prevails
By Sarah Jane Tribble
Mercury News

Silicon Valley leaders Tuesday picked a team that includes technology companies Cisco Systems and IBM to build and operate a free and affordable wireless network for up to 2.4 million people across the region.

The Silicon Valley Metro Connect team, which also includes Azulstar and the non-profit SeaKay, hopes to begin building the 1,500 square-mile network this fall, with the first of about 40 cities and communities able to access free wireless Internet early next year, said Diana Hage, director of wireless services at IBM.

Once complete, the network would be available for free outside and inside some homes close to the wireless access points. Internet access at higher speeds would be available for a fee.

``This is really a consortium and partnership between business and community and local authorities who are driving to keep Silicon Valley at the edge,'' Hage said. ``We're going to put all of our best players on this to make this a reality.''

The team faces what some believe is a monumental challenge: persuading some 40 communities to participate with the same wireless provider.

Metro Connect, bidding against a handful of other companies, jumped the biggest hurdle Tuesday when two large regional groups -- the San Mateo County Telecommunications Authority and Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network -- agreed to recommend the team as the area's preferred wireless provider.


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