Tampa Municipal buildings introduce public wi-fi, and more access could be on the way

TAMPA - Finding a place to get online is a little easier in Tampa these days.  The city is installing hot spots at many of its high-traffic buildings.  And this may just be the first step in a completely internet-accessible city.

"I mean, I have a lot of young staffers that tell me I'm lame because City Hall isn't wired," lamented Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who insisted it's one of his main missions to bring Tampa's City offices into the new millennium, with the same sort of wi-fi access many of us enjoy at home -- or even our offices --at their offices.

"We want to make sure that when somebody comes in that they do have access to the kind of work that they do on a regular basis," said Chief Information Officer Russell Haupert, who also told me getting this wi-fi stuff installed has been practically job one.

"You know, we're in that stage where we're playing with the settings," he continued, "making sure that it is as reliable as it needs to be."

Russell showed me that it's basically like any business wi-fi... where you log in and agree to terms and then you're good to go.  So -- we wondered aloud -- would this be the first step in getting all of downtown Tampa wi-fi connected?

"I would like to have everyone have access to it," said the Mayor.  "I don't know whether it would be available to me or not."

He also says that would require intense negotiation with either Verizon or Brighthouse -- or both -- to make sure we all could use all services.  Our IT guy says let's walk first, before we go running after a totally wi-fi city.

"We're not ruling out something in the future," he said.  "But," he added, "I think this is the first step for us to understand the technology and make sure that we understand our users needs before we start moving forward."

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