Wireless Ypsilanti brings free Wi-Fi to downtown, looks to expand coverage

A happy little band of Internet bandwidth techies in Ypsilanti aren't waiting for free Wi-Fi, wireless Internet, to come to them. They're using cutting edge technology to create it.

Welcome to the Wireless Ypsi project where a few local residents and business owners are taking Internet access by the horns and making it available to Ypsilanti's downtown, Depot Town and beyond.

"So you can go to your favorite restaurant, bar or park and pop open your laptop and be on the Internet for free," says Steve Pierce, one of the principals of Wireless Ypsi. "The feedback we have received has just been fabulous."

Wireless Ypsi, which began in January, provides wireless Internet at speeds of about 1.5 megabytes or about the speed of DSL or T1 connections. The company, which is run more like a non-profit, uses Meraki technology to connect Internet hot spots at local businesses, institutions and homes to create a mesh-like net of Wi-Fi coverage. Similar systems are being set up in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and San Diego.

So far the system has an average of 60 to 70 users each day and about 500 unique computers that log on with some form of regularity. Wireless Ypsi is expanding its coverage area to Depot Town this month and is expected to extend to nearby neighborhoods within a few months or even weeks.

Source: Steve Pierce, principal of Wireless Ypsi
Writer: Jon Zemke