Santa Clara launches free outdoor Wi-Fi on backs of smart meters

Residents of Santa Clara, Calif. not only have a new smart meter program but free outdoor Wi-Fi to boot. The city’s non-profit electric municipal utility, Silicon Valley Power (SVP), is taking advantage of connected electric meters by integrating support for a second public unencrypted Wi-Fi channel, allowing the city to blanket the airwaves with free Wi-Fi.
santaclara-wifiSVP expects to support around 5,000 daily connections on the new public network, which has an SSID, or network name, of “SVPMeterConnectWiFi.” There’s no login, no password, nor credentials of any kind needed to use the outdoor wireless network. Utility data from the meters will be sent securely, however.
While the new network should add convenience around town, residents shouldn’t expect super high speeds: SVP says the connections will top out around 1 Mbps, which is slightly slower than 3G mobile broadband speeds. But for occasional use to check email, social networks and other light usage, those speeds should be more than sufficient; plus, you can’t beat the price!