For about eight months now, I have been spending a chunk of my free time working with a great group of people on a side project to bring free wireless access (cFree Wireless) to key public areas in what started as the Iowa City area, but has expanded recently to include the entire corridor (Iowa City, Coralville & Cedar Rapids). A little while before I joined group, it was just an idea being tossed around that it would sure be nice to sit out in Iowa City’s Ped Mall and check your e-mail or browse the web. It started to grow from there as we began our search for equipment and service providers and most importantly financial backing. From the beginning we wanted this to be totally free wireless access for the community. The network would be sustained by ad revenues posted on the network sign-in screen. The network would only be for public urban and park areas. We didn’t want this to become your typical coffee shop wireless.
Things started to move once we found an ISP to provide our bandwidth and began talking with some wireless equipment providers. We began mapping out how this whole system would work. Word starting getting around that we were looking into this, and the city of Coralville (right next door to Iowa City) said that they were interested in helping out, so we ended up adding another city to our list. We widened the scope of our project to the two cities and kept plugging away.
Around three or four weeks ago, our group heard from another group in Cedar Rapids (25 miles to the North) that was looking to do the very same thing, but weren’t as far along in the planning stages as we were. We decided that it made sense for our groups to join forces and expand the project to the entire corridor. What came out of this partnership was The cFree Wireless Network, and a new non-profit group from our combined efforts.
This past Monday (March 28th), The cFree Wireless Network held a press conference in Cedar Rapids announcing the partnership and the launch of our new group with the goal of bringing free wireless access to key public spaces in the Iowa City, Coralville and Cedar Rapids areas by the end of this summer. Things have been moving very quickly these last few weeks with finding sponsors (Iowa.com has become our presenting sponsor), getting things organized, and really pounding out the infrastructure for this (what has now become a) fairly sizable project. There has also been a good deal of media coverage this past week as well. All the coverage and information about the project can be found at the cFree Wireless website.
Soon you’ll be able to take your laptop or PDA to any of these three cities and plop down in a park or city area and check your e-mail or surf the web… without wires… and without paying a dime.