MARTINEZ -- Free Wi-Fi should be available many places people gather for fun in the sun in Martinez this summer.
Walnut Creek-based air Cloud Communications, which runs the city's wireless Internet network, last year installed additional wireless radio transmitters at Rankin Aquatic Center, the bocce courts, the senior center and the marina harbor master's office.
The transmitter at the swimming pool also covers adjacent Rankin Park. The company also upgraded coverage at City Hall and the Amtrak station and put in five additional transmitters along Escobar and Ward streets.
Once air Cloud installs a second relay site at Mountain View reservoir, it will put in transmitters at Hidden Lakes Park, the baseball fields in Waterfront Park and the amphitheater, according to Dan Wilson, air Cloud chief executive. He expects that work to be done in the next 30 to 60 days. The new relay site also will double the network's available bandwidth.
In January, 4,856 unique users signed on to the Wi-Fi network, up 40 percent over the same month last year, Wilson wrote in an email. He attributes most of the growth to the expansion at Rankin Park and the train station.
In 2010, Martinez signed a 15-year contract with air Cloud Communications to run the wireless network free of charge to users and to the city.
In the first phase, the city spent about $18,000 to purchase and install eight wireless radio transmitters on buildings and streetlights in the downtown area. The service began in January 2011 and initially was available at the Amtrak station, City Hall and along Main Street.
Expanding the network cost an additional $32,500, according to Michael Chandler, senior management analyst. Funds for the Wi-Fi project come from the franchise fees Comcast pays the city.
Initially, air Cloud offered free and paid service. Users could avoid banner ads by paying hourly or monthly fees. But few people paid to use the Wi-Fi and air Cloud eliminated the paid service last year.
As part of the contract, Martinez was to receive 10 percent of the net revenue from local ads, but air Cloud stopped running banner ads shortly after the network launched because the company that provided the technology exited the space. The company is awaiting new software, according to Wilson.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.