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Wi-Fi closing in on Tempe, Chandler
By Doug Snover

December 3, 2005

The wireless Internet revolution is mounting a full-scale assault on Tempe and closing in on the Kyrene Corridor from both the north and east.

By February, residents of south Tempe should be able to subscribe to Wi-Fi service.

It probably won’t be long after that when Chandler residents also are offered citywide Wi-Fi service by the same operator that is preparing Tempe to “go wireless.”

Tempe is racing to become the largest city in the nation to offer border-to-border wireless Internet access.

Much of the downtown area is ready to go wireless. Over the next three months, the service provider, MobilePro, will complete its system throughout Tempe’s 40 square miles.

The new WAZTempe subscription service will be offered at $29.95 a month, $19.95 per week, $7.95 for one day, or $3.95 per hour. Daily and hourly rates include a 95-cent setup fee, which is waived for weekly or monthly contracts.

Free wireless Internet service is already available throughout most of downtown Tempe, so anyone with a 802.11B/G wireless card can connect to the network.

Tempe officially dedicated its wireless network on Monday, Nov. 28, in a ceremony at Tempe Beach Park, Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway.

“Tempe is on the cutting edge here,” said Mayor Hugh Hallman. “We are living our commitment to make Tempe ‘The Smart Place to Be’.”

Maryland-based MobilePro had considered starting its wireless network in south Tempe, but decided to concentrate its first efforts north of Broadway Road due to some technical considerations, according to Dave Heck, Tempe’s assistant chief information officer in the Information Technology Department.

Construction of the wireless system lagged behind schedule initially but should pick up speed, Heck said.

MobilePro predicts wireless service will reach southward to Elliot Road by the end of January and the full city should be covered by the end of February.

Chandler, meanwhile, is negotiating with MobilePro for a system nearly identical to the Tempe project.

“We’re still in the discussion stages. We are following the Tempe model pretty closely,” said Margaret Coulter, Chandler’s communications manager.

Coulter said a proposal could be sent to the Chandler City Council my mid-December or early January.

Both Coulter and Chandler assistant City Manager Pat McDermott said the city likes the wireless companies competing for business without any of the city’s money.

“We talked to several other companies who wanted the city to be a partner, but the city’s not interested,” Coulter said.

The Tempe Wi-Fi network will give local computer users another option to connect to the Internet rather than using telephone or cable television lines. Once online, Tempe residents will be able to use the same Internet service providers (ISPs) that they use now.

In simplest terms, the Tempe WiFi system is an electronic “pipe” that uses a radio frequency and streetlight-mounted antennas to serve the same function as telephone and cable television wires in connecting personal computers to the Internet, Heck said.

MobilePro’s Wi-Fi system uses hundreds of shoebox-size antennas mounted on streetlight poles throughout the city to pick up and transmit signals from residents’ personal computers, laptops, cellphones and PDAs.

MobilePro is repaying the city for the right to use city streetlights by configuring its antennas to create a second Wi-Fi system that will be available only to the city, according to Heck. Police, firefighters and all types of municipal workers will be able to communicate through this parallel system, he said.

All Tempe police officers have been issued personal laptop computers with wireless capability, he noted.

As for the security of residents’ wireless computers, Heck said the MobilePro system will be more secure from hackers than hard-wire connections to the Internet because MobilePro and StrixSystems will use a military-developed 128-bit encryption system.

For more information about the WAZTempe Wi-Fi network, visit


Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

Mochajumbie's Island Cafe
440 W. Warner Rd. Suite 103, Tempe, AZ 85284
Steve's Espresso
1801 E. Baseline Rd., ste. 102, Tempe, AZ 85283
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S. McClintock Dr
Chuy's Mesquite Broiler
1831 - E. Baseline Rd., Tempe, AZ 85283
Days Inn
1221 E Apache Blvd, Tempe, AZ 85281
Gold Bar Coffee House
3141 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ 85282
Wildflower Bread Company
McClintock and Guadalupe, Tempe, AZ
Downtown area
Many along Mill Ave from University to Tempe Beach Park
Schlotzsky's Deli
1401 W Southern Ave
The Boathouse
5394 S Lakeshore Dr.
The Extreme-Bean Coffee Shop
1707 E. Southern Ave.

























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