Thanks to Bright House Networks, the city of Tampa will soon be offering free wireless connectivity along the entire length of the Tampa Riverwalk. That includes all of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, as well as Cotanchobee Park behind the Tampa Bay Times Forum to the south, and up to the soon-to-be-completed Water Works Park to the north, as well as Juliian B. Lane Riverfront Park in the West River area once renovations are completed there, probably sometime in 2017.
"Downtown Tampa has become a place of destiny, a place where young people want to be," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn at a press conference held at Curtis Hixon Thursday morning. Saying that downtown has become a different, more interesting place over the past five years, it's important to offer amenities to young professionals — like free Wi-Fi inside city parks. "This will encourage people to come down to the parks, encourage people to come down to the Riverwalk and sit on the benches and look across at the Minarets, and use their laptops and do what they would do."
The Wi-Fi will be free for up to two hours at a time (or one gigabyte per month) per user, and will be advertisement free.
Craig Cowden, chief network officer and senior vice president of Enterprise Solutions, Bright House Networks, said the move complements the last four years of "aggressive" Wi-Fi build-out that the cable and Internet provider has made across the Central Florida region. He said Bright House has built out 30,000 access points that customers can use for free in the area, and 250,000 such hot spots across the country. "We recognize that we're in a mobile society today, where people want to work and live and play in the communities that they live in. They don't want to be restricted to the household."
It won't cost the city taxpayers a dime. Buckhorn said he expects the service to be operable by the end of the year (with the exception of Riverfront Park).
At least 57 cities offer some form of free Wi-Fi across the country.