Anaptyx Installs Free Wi-Fi in Greenway Parks—Rest of Boston to Follow?

7/20/10Follow @gthuang

When last we checked in with Ken Carnesi, the co-founder and CEO of Anaptyx, he was busy setting up a free Wi-Fi network in Harvard Square. He was also starting to bring his Boston-area company’s wireless Internet service, meant primarily for apartments and condo buildings, to new cities around the country.

Today he’s helping to switch on an important new service in his own backyard. The City of Boston and the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy have just announced that free wireless Internet access is now available throughout the Greenway parks—the relatively new series of green spaces that cut through downtown Boston and the financial district, from the North End to Chinatown.

That means your laptop, iPhone, BlackBerry, or other terribly addictive device will be able to get on the Web when you’re out and about in the parks. It also means workers and visitors in the office buildings that line the parks can access the network, which is called “Greenway.” It’s one of the biggest free Wi-Fi hotspots in the state.

While the city played a leading role in this project—including donating the fiber-optic connections and light poles that support the network—it’s an even bigger deal for Anaptyx, being a small company. The Watertown, MA-based startup designed and built the mesh network, which is made up of about 15 radios and can adjust itself automatically if any of the individual units fails. The network will also allow city workers to remotely monitor the parks’ fountains, lighting, and irrigation systems. “It’s the most visible project we’ve done to date,” says Carnesi, whose background is in management and finance.

Anaptyx is just over three years old and has grown to seven full-time employees. The company was mostly self-funded, and has been profitable almost from its inception. In a strategic move, it started making its own hardware last November. And yes, its Harvard Square Wi-Fi network is still up and running. The network, created with MIT spinoff Meraki, serves upwards of 600 people a day, and had more than 100,000 total users as of six months ago, says Carnesi.

So what are the prospects of getting free wireless access throughout Boston? After all, here we are two years later, and it still hasn’t happened. The Greenway project could be “key for the city to get free Wi-Fi,” Carnesi says. “Over the next year you’re going to see it happening a lot more. They’re definitely still pushing for it. It’s closer than it ever was.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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