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Free Wi-Fi coming to Geneva
Texas Internet company will install transmitters throughout city
By Susan Sarkauskas | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/24/2007 5:56 PM

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Computer users in Geneva could have access to free citywide wireless Internet access by the end of the year.

The city council Monday signed a deal with Meshlinx to let the Texas company put Wi-Fi transmitters on utility poles and public buildings throughout the city.

The company, which also signed a contract with St. Charles a few weeks ago, expects to begin surveying the two cities in a few weeks to determine how many radio-frequency emitting devices to install. There will be about 25 per square mile, said Dale Meitzen, executive vice president of sales.

The free service will operate at a speed of up to 512 kilobits per second. For faster service of 1 to 5 megabits per second, users would pay $20 to $55 per month.

Meshlinx hopes that city officials will be impressed enough with the network that they will eventually use it for city communications, such as police and public works messages. The contract requires Meshlinx to cover the whole town, said Peter Collins, Geneva's information technology manager.

Aurora has wireless service from another company, but not all over the city yet. Implementation has been slowed as the wireless company had to negotiate fees for pole use with ComEd. In Geneva, Meshlinx will pay $36 per pole per year, and $600 per month for city property other than street poles and water powers. Attaching to the water towers will be based on what it charges wireless and cellular communications companies.

"In order for wireless to be useful for the city, it has to be everywhere," said Collins.

Meshlinx approached the city. It is also in discussions with the city of Batavia.

Computer users may need a booster antenna at their homes or businesses to get a good signal inside, Collins said. Meitzen said Meshlinx may offer installation services for those.

Collins, who was involved in a failed attempt to get municipal broadband fiber-optic service established in the Tri-Cities a few years ago, is pleased consumers will have another choice besides Internet by telephone, cable television or satellite television.

"This isn't as good as fiber to the home, but it is some competition," Collins said.