Boston has launched Wi-Fi hotspots in the past, but the city is now dedicating itself to a larger, more cohesive free network. Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced on April 9 the launch of Wicked Free WiFi: Boston’s Public Wireless Network. The launch covers a 1.5 sq. mi. area in Grove Hall that is home to about 30,000 residents. This phase is the first of many, according to the city, in an effort to expand a citywide Wi-Fi network that already consists of more than 170 access points.
"Closing the digital divide and providing free public Wi-Fi in our neighborhoods is essential," Walsh said. "We want every Bostonian to have the same opportunities in today’s digital world. Wi-Fi access plays a significant role in every aspect of our lives from learning to earning. Our goal is to strengthen and expand our public network, and reach more families and businesses."
The city plans to soon add street signs that show where Wi-Fi is available. Further expansions of the network include connecting an estimated 130 access points together as the city brings Wi-Fi to more “underserved areas,” according to a prepared statement released by the city.
The program was funded by Boston’s general fund and by partners, including the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods program.
The network will provide speeds just fast enough to let users stream video at medium quality, according to the Boston Globe.
The Grove Hall neighborhood access points see about 7,700 daily users with a repeat visitor rate of 89 percent, according to the city.
The city now offers free Wi-Fi service in the neighborhoods of Grove Hall, Roxbury/Dudley, Allston, Boston Common, Charlestown, Choice Neighborhood, City Hall, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, Faneuil Hall, Dorchester, Hyde Park, and South Boston.
The network is not intended to replace wired service, according to city officials. It's meant to bring Internet access to people who would not otherwise afford it and to provide convenient outdoor service to citizens.
Content on the network is limited and users will be prevented from accessing pornography, piracy websites, gambling websites, or anything that might be considered malicious content.