District-based TechAssist LLC will provide free wireless Internet access in Dupont Circle starting Friday, the information technology consulting firm said yesterday.
The wireless access will work inside the area and may work on surrounding blocks, said Nick Vossburg, president of TechAssist.
"We had done a lot of research and saw that a lot of cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City were launching hot spots with nonprofits or government funding," Vossburg said. "Being an IT firm, we knew we had the technology."
Users will automatically be directed to the Dupont Wireless Web site, which contains the TechAssist logo, along with the project's sponsors, Allied Telecom Group, Jurys Doyle Hotels and the Koltun and King law firm.
The project will cost approximately $10,000, Vossburg said. TechAssist does not have plans to make up that cost by using advertising on its Web site.
But Vossburg said providing public wireless access builds the brand names of the company as well as the project's sponsors.
"From the sponsors' point of view, their name is out there for a positive community project, and people in the D.C. area get to learn about their services," Vossburg said.
TechAssist has worked on the wireless Internet access project for about a year, Vossburg said. The company considered other parts of the city but eventually settled on Dupont Circle.
"Dupont happened to fall into that right mix of heavy residential and businesses as well," Vossburg said. He added that the circle also has seating open to the public.
TechAssist will consider installing wireless access in Adams Morgan and McPherson Square in the future, he said.
The District has other areas with free outdoor wireless access. Open Park, a District-based nonprofit organization that provides wireless Internet for the public, has installed access on Capitol Hill and at Freedom Plaza and Pershing Park.
Open Park is currently pushing for a wireless access spot along the Mall, pending approval from the Smithsonian Institution. The organization has proposed placing antennas on Smithsonian buildings.
Alexandria also is experimenting with wireless access. Last month, local government officials launched a one-year pilot that provides free Internet access in Alexandria's historic center.