San Jose calls itself the capitol of the Silicon Valley. It is a claim that the recent announcement of that the city has partnered with a private company for a new, free, high-speed wireless internet service for its downtown.

Free wireless networking in San Jose isn’t new. In fact, in 2004 San Jose was among the first large cities in the nation to offer the service. However, upgrades in connectivity hardware allowed the city to re-innovate the service through a public-private partnership.

Ruckus Wireless and SmartWAVE Technologies will be installing new wireless routers on light poles in two areas of Downtown San Jose, covering more than an half a square mile of the city with the improved access.

“This will bring disturbingly fast Internet access to Downtown,” said Vijay Sammeta, the Acting Chief Information Officer for the City of San Jose. “(It) is part of San José’s strategy to partner with industry leaders who are committed to improving communities and furthering the Silicon Valley experience.”

The majority of these wireless devices will be connected to an ultra high-speed gigabit fiber network that terminates at an Internet peering point called MAE West in Downtown San José. Management of the wireless network will be centralized at City Hall, allowing a single point of visibility, control and tuning of the Wi-Fi network.

“With our great weather, Downtown San José’s outdoor spaces play an important role as places to connect, work, and socialize,” noted Councilmember Sam Liccardo (District 3), who represents the Downtown. “With the addition of the fastest free Wi-Fi network, our businesses, residents and visitors will have an easy, effective way to stay connected with the online world while discovering Downtown San José.”

In addition to making free Wi-Fi available in public spaces downtown, the new network will also provide redundant and enhanced connectivity for City facilities.

“There is an inherent expectation that when people visit Silicon Valley they experience the very best in technology,” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. “The City of San José understands this better than anyone else and is taking aggressive steps to build a world-class wireless network serving local business and visitors who are now demanding more pervasive and reliable mobile connectivity.”

The new system will have a one-time cost of $94,000. After that, it will provide improved service compared to the current system for the same cost of $22,000 per year.