PITTSBURG -- Free wi-fi service is coming to the city's Old Town area as a result of a vote taken Tuesday at the City Council meeting.

The $48,251 contract with Monterey-based Twister Network Solutions LLC to install the wireless network was approved by a 5-0 vote of the City Council on the consent calendar. The council was acting as the board of directors of the Pittsburg Power Co., a city-owned entity that uses revenues from energy projects it develops to promote economic development in the city. The funding for the wireless network comes from the Pittsburg Power Co.

The service is expected to be running by summer. But while the service will be adequate for those hanging out at coffee shops or restaurants in the Old Town area, it will not be strong enough to allow those who live in the area to drop their paid Internet service.

The contract amount covers the cost of hardware and software components, along with the first year of operational and maintenance costs by Twister Network Solutions for wi-fi coverage from the Marina area to Eighth Street in the city's Old Town.

Once the installation work is completed, the Pittsburg Power Co. will own the network. It is estimated another $10,000 a year will be paid to Twister Network Solutions to keep the wi-fi service running, said a staff report recommending passage of the contract.

The report said the wi-fi network is needed given that parts of Old Town have poor cell phone and Internet coverage.

"The Old Town area of Pittsburg has seen a dramatic improvement in the overall image allowing for increased pedestrian traffic both locally and from outside of city boundaries. It is crucial for the continued development of the Old Town area that commercial buildings are filled with successful long-term businesses. Providing a robust wireless technology, at no cost to the user, is another way the city can encourage more patronage in the Old Town area," the report said.

The action also authorizes another $25,000 in Pittsburg Power Co. funds to cover electrical and equipment upgrades at the California Theatre on Railroad Avenue to support the wi-fi network.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.