Welcome to Wi-Fi-Ville

As municipal wireless pops up, so do questions: Who pays for it? Who runs it? Who's looking over your shoulder?

Brent Humphreys / Redux for Time

Leonard Scott, right, manager of Corpus Christi's network, uses wi-fi atop city hall.

Citizens of Corpus Christi, Texas, can thank a snapping dog for the free wireless Internet they enjoy around town. After the pooch took a piece out of a utility meter reader, officials decided they needed a Fido-free system. The city built a small wireless-fidelity (wi-fi) network that transmits meter data from homes via the Web. The pilot worked so well that Corpus Christi dreamed big, using tax dollars to fund a $7.1 million, 147-sq.-mi. network that went live last month. Now park sunbathers can Web surf and this town of 300,000 is home to one of the largest wireless systems in...

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