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Wireless Internet Service Proposed For Nation's Capital

The Washington D.C. city government is preparing to solicit bids for a citywide broadband network that would have the chief aim of providing free service for low-income residents.

According to a report in Thursday's Washington Post, the city government appears to be open to seeing any of a broad range of technologies used in the deployment -- Wi-Fi, WiMAX, cell phone company cards in laptops, and even landline connections.

"Access to technology is like access to books: It's an important medium of communication and learning and opportunity," Mayor Anthony A. Williams told the Post. "Other cities are doing it and I want our city doing it, too."

The city's IT department has been preparing a bid structure that would likely call for an eight-year period in which the winning company would have an exclusive franchise to use the city's street lights to attach wireless access points. The city hopes to have large parts of the citywide deployment up-and-running in nine months.

The deployment wouldn't necessarily cover the entire city, and some areas could be left to provide their own Wi-Fi connections. According to the newspaper report, the winning bidder could have the option of providing landline service in some portions of the city.