Tempe can move forward with plans to become the first in the country to offer its residents citywide wireless broadband Internet service.
Officials with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors said MobilePro Corp. can maintain and manage the system, but they must hire licensed contractors to install the hardware.
The state office called for an investigation in May after taking complaints that MobilePro was not state certified.
The decision reaffirms the city’s position, which maintained that MobilePro, like other communications firms, did not need a contractor’s license to manage the system.
To build a citywide system, MobilePro plans to attach the necessary infrastructure — such as antennas — to cityowned stoplights and street lamps.
Dave Heck, Tempe’s deputy information technology manager, said he expects MobilePro will begin installing the network within the next couple of weeks.
Portions of the wireless network could go online by the middle of August, he said.
Although the registrar’s office cannot stop Tempe from building a system, it has the authority to keep an unlicensed company from working in the state.
The project is expected to deliver service to more than 65,000 households, 1,100 businesses and 50,000 Arizona State University students.
While the city would not be the first to offer Wi-Fi, it would be the first to offer a citywide service. Other communities such as Chicago, Philadelphia and New York have systems covering parts of their cities.
The wireless system currently covering downtown Tempe recently ran into problems. After going online, users experienced dead spots where they were unable to access the Internet. Those problems have been fixed.
In the Valley, Phoenix and Scottsdale are planning to expand wireless Internet connections in their central cores. Tempe, with its links to ASU, is the furthest along.