When Brazil was selected to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup, many Brazilians hoped the event would jump-start many needed infrastructure improvements - especially things like airport capacity and traffic congestion. While in most cases any upgrades in those areas have fallen short of expectations, the World Cup may still provide at least one tangible improvement to residents of São Paulo, the country's biggest city.
With next year's World Cup in mind, the city mayor's office published a list this week of 120 public spaces, including parks, squares, and public transit stations, where it plans to install free WiFi access.
According to Prodam, the IT and telecoms company run by the city of São Paulo, the hotspots would cover 6.7 million square meters (more than 4,000 square miles) and would allow 24,200 simultaneous users. The WiFi will have to be available 24 hours a day, with a minimum speed of 512 kbps per user for downloads and uploads. Moreover, the connection must be sufficient to ensure access to streaming video and VoIP telephone services. Companies will now have to bid for the contracts to implement the service.
If things proceed according to schedule, the city government hopes to conclude bidding for the project by July, and intends to start the WiFi installation by October. The mayor's office plans to spend R$45 million ($22 million) over the initial 36-month contract.
Public, free WiFi has long been promised in mayoral campaigns - including that of the current mayor, Fernando Haddad. But in a city where safety concerns are never far from the surface, what remains to be seen is whether people will feel safe pulling out their iPads and smartphones in public spaces to take advantage of all the free WiFi.