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Sacramento, Calif., Partners with Verizon on Free Park Wi-Fi

Verizon has pledged to provide free Wi-Fi via digital kiosks in 27 Sacramento parks.

Verizon and Sacramento, Calif., sitting in a tree, giving park-goers Wi-Fi for free?! It’s true — the Sacramento City Council approved a contract with Verizon this week.

The contract allows Verizon to install small cell towers on utility poles throughout the city. In return, Verizon has pledged to provide free Wi-Fi, via digital kiosks, in 27 Sacramento parks. So far, Land Park and McKinley Park are the first two of the 27 parks to be chosen.

This agreement means that Verizon’s planned expansion of its fiber-optic network can happen faster, be more efficient, and cost the company less since it will be adding to existing city infrastructure and have an easier time obtaining permits.

This contract will also create many internship opportunities with Verizon in coming years, but despite all of the positive prospects, the contract has garnered some criticism from potential competitors. Since the contract was agreed upon five days prior to proper city procedure, companies such as anyCOMM and Siemens wrote the City Council to express their dissatisfaction.

“I think you should urge caution before signing a contract,” said Rob Praske, founder and CEO of anyCOMM. “We were hoping we’d have the opportunity to present an alternative.”

Sacramento CIO Maria MacGunigal explained that the City Council’s decision to waive the 10-day waiting period in this situation was due to the city’s deadline to apply for a federal transportation grant. The deadline to apply is Monday, June 12, and the council felt the agreement with Verizon would help the city obtain the transportation grant. MacGunigal added that Verizon is only entitled to a portion of Sacramento’s utility poles, so other companies would still be able to have similar contracts.

For the citizens of Sacramento, this simply means that free, fast Wi-Fi is coming to a park near you.