KANSAS CITY BUSINESS JOURNAL
By Dora Grote
KANSAS CITY, MO. — As of Thursday, Kansas City is now the most connected city on Earth, according to the city’s chief innovation officer, Bob Bennett, who helped dream up the smart city plan.
Sprint Corp. officially launched its free WiFi along the 2.2-mile streetcar route Thursday, putting 50 blocks — with 22,000 residents — all under WiFi. Bennett said Barcelona comes the closest, with 30 blocks under WiFi, noting that Barcelona does have higher density population.
The route provides 300 access WiFi points, and roughly 90 percent of them have been installed, said Tony Singer, Sprint’s business strategy manager for network planning who helped make the project happen from its beginning stages two years ago to now. The public can hop on “KC Free Public Wi-Fi,” and Sprint customers can hook onto “Free Sprint Wi-Fi.” The Wi-Fi installment is a piece of Sprint’s effort to densify its network and transform the company.
Kansas City is competing against Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Portland, Ore. and San Francisco, Calif. for the U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge for up to $40 million in grants. If it wins the DoT competition, the city would also receive 100 additional high-tech, WiFi-enabled kiosks through a Smart City Challenge partnership with Sidewalk Labs.