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Wireless Initiatives Expand Free Public Internet Access

Thursday, September 23, 2010
DC-Net expands free Wi-Fi Internet access to expanded citywide wireless coverage, improving mobile accessibility to residents, businesses and city workers.
Man installing wifi box on the roof

In FY 2010, DC-Net expanded citywide wireless coverage, improving mobile accessibility to residents, businesses and city workers, increasing the number of wireless access devices at schools, libraries, parks, other District government sites and tourist locations. 

A key part of the District’s Digital Divide strategy, Wi-Fi hotspots use existing available infrastructure and serve complementary roles: secured wireless access for District workers, guest access for building visitors and public access through DC Free WiFi.

Key wireless projects include:

  • Wi-Fi coverage of Chinatown/Penn Quarter area/
  • Wi-Fi coverage across the National Mall from the Washington Monument and Ellipse along 15th Street to 3rd Street in front of the Capitol between Constitution Avenue, NW, on the north and Independence Avenue, SW, on the south—an area which receives an estimated 24 million visitors from around the world each year.
  • Wi-Fi coverage at Eastern Market
  • Campus-wide Wi-Fi coverage at Southwest Waterfront
  • Campus-wide Wi-Fi coverage at the University of the District of Columbia Van Ness campus
  • Campus-wide Wi-Fi coverage at the Community College of the District of Columbia, 801 North Capitol Street, NE, Backus High School and 5171 South Dakota Avenue, NE.
  • Campus-wide Wi-Fi at St. Elizabeths.
  • Wi-Fi coverage at all District government site deployments.

In response to the growth of wireless hotspot users and in an effort to improve the overall wireless user experience, DC-Net increased the capacity of the wireless network from support for 1896 concurrent users in FY 2009 to 6464 users in FY 2010. It also tripled the number of wireless access devices deployed from 1,000 in FY 2009 to 3,100 in FY 2010, while modestly increasing hotspot locations from 218 in FY 2009 to 230 in FY 2010, thereby strengthening hotspot capacity. Wireless bandwidth also nearly tripled, from 50 Mbps in FY 2009 to 130 Mbps in FY 2010. Hotspots support 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi standards and user access speeds up to 20 Mbps.

Wi-Fi hotspot expansion supports tourism and economic development by enhancing the visitor experience and giving local businesses more powerful free access to the Internet. The increased capacity also provides an added convenience, enabling users to connect to the Internet while at District government service locations.

Use the free DC WiFi mobile app to find hotspots throughout the city. Select a download link: 

Google Android Users

Apple iOS Users