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Chattanooga's Public Wi-Fi Cited as Model for Cities

San Francisco, New York and Chattanooga? NoogaNet delivers some of the fastest publicly owned broadband Internet.

(MCT) -- Chattanooga's effort to offer free Wi-Fi access in public places is among the best nationally and is included in the ranks of initiatives in cities such as San Francisco and New York, a website says.

NoogaNet, a network being rolled out at city-owned spaces and buildings, is cited as "the model most cities should be striving for at this time," according to highspeedinternet.com.

"Chattanooga already has one of the fastest, publicly owned Internet services at 1 GB. Now they're ahead of the game again in terms of free public access," said blogger Ben Kerns for the website.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said providing more access to high-speed broadband is a priority.

"We've made digital access an important focal point," he said.

The website said NoogaNet was first implemented in 18 family development centers and it's continuing to be rolled out to more public spaces.

The website highspeedinternet.com also cited as free Wi-Fi leaders Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The website said that having free Wi-Fi access is a luxury, whether for a telecommuter or someone on vacation.

"To enjoy this, you usually have to head to the local library or coffee shop. But some major cities throughout the nation want to make city-sponsored Wi-Fi access more widespread," it said.

Berke said people can access more goods and services than ever before with use of the Internet, whether that be entertainment, books and other items on Amazon, or even groceries.

Also, in terms of economic development, more companies are offering Internet-only job applications, or people are selling goods online, he said.

"There are multitudes of opportunities," the mayor said. "Everyone should have that opportunity."

Tia Capps, communications director for Chattanooga business accelerator The Company Lab, said people do their jobs differently than in the past.

"Not everyone stays at the office all day long," she said. "Having different places having the Internet allows people to work longer and together. It enables people to work more freely. That's very important."

©2015 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, Tenn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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