alphadogg writes: San Jose is casting a vote of confidence in municipal Wi-Fi from the heart of Silicon Valley, planning a new, free network just a few years after such networks were declared all but dead. The California city of about 1 million intends to offer high-speed Wi-Fi throughout its downtown, covering an area of 1.5 square miles in the middle of this year. But unlike earlier municipal Wi-Fi initiatives, such as a Google-sponsored network that would have covered San Francisco, the San Jose system will be able to pay for itself entirely by helping the government do its job. In the middle of the past decade, ambitious projects in several cities, including parts of San Jose, promised to blanket outdoor areas with Wi-Fi and provide built-in sources of revenue. Home broadband subscriptions, browser-based advertising or small-business use would help to pay for equipment and operations. But those complicated business models depended on assumptions that often proved unfounded.