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Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
A sign at the Coffee Garden on Main Street in Salt Lake City tells customers the establishment has Wi-Fi.

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has a new reason for people to come downtown — and to bring their laptops.

The mayor announced Tuesday that Main Street, from South Temple to 400 South, is now wireless enabled.

"This service will further our effort to enliven downtown and continue Salt Lake City's tradition of being at the cutting edge of innovations in technology," Anderson said.

The new wireless street is part of Salt Lake City's "You're in the Zone" program, which already has brought wireless Internet to the Gallivan Plaza and the Salt Lake City Main Library.

In the midst of empty stores on a struggling street, Tony Weller and his store were called "institutions" by Anderson. Sam Weller's Bookstore started in Salt Lake City in 1929. Tony Weller now owns the store and has worked to revitalize downtown as president of the Downtown Merchants Association.

"As a book seller, I'm kind of a low-tech guy, but I'm thrilled by this because it is one more reason to come downtown," Weller said.

The wireless system begins working when someone turns on a computer — and it is completely free. A Wi-Fi enabled laptop picks up the signal sent from hubs along the street and gains access to the system when the user agrees to the terms on XMission's Web site.

City employees came to Sam Weller's with their laptops Tuesday to demonstrate the service. Technology consultants Bill Haight and Ernie Field use their laptops often at the Gallivan Center, which has been enabled for two years.

"It really comes in handy," Haight said.

The two tote their laptops so they can check e-mail, stock quotes and "everything else," he said.

The service is sponsored by XMission, which seeks to revitalize communities through technology, at no cost to taxpayers.

"This installation of free wireless on Main Street is an example of how a public-private partnership should work," said XMission president Pete Ashdown.

The service can also benefit local businesses. Those in the zone can increase the signal so it works inside by paying for the equipment or paying $100.

"As we continue to expand this, I think it is going to be a major asset for those that live and work in our city," Anderson said.

He said Liberty and Pioneer parks will be wireless-enabled by 2006.

For more information about the service, go to www.slcgov.com.


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