Coming to U.S. cities soon

The northern Portuguese port city of Porto is now home to thelargest and most advanced vehicular Wi-Fi network in the world. The network, built by a startup that originated in the city itself but is now headquartered in California, consists of over 600 wireless router-toting vehicles — buses, cars and even garbage trucks — and is responsible for providing wireless internet connectivity to around 70,000 people each month, who would’ve otherwise had to rely on cellular data.

“Our on-board units endow vehicles with multi-purpose multi-network capabilities, supporting both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication using WiFi and cellular,” reads a page on the company’s site. “NetRider devices have been deployed and tested in private vehicles, taxis, buses and large trucks in rough environments. Installation is simple and convenient. In a different configuration, NetRider units operate as roadside units and wireless routers.”

Veniam, the company behind Porto’s massive city-wide vehicular wireless network, recently raised  $4.9 million in Series A funding and is keen on bringing this technology to U.S. cities.  João Barros, one of the company’s founders, recently told VentureBeat that it plans to begin rolling out the technology across U.S. cities by having its NetRider routers fitted onboard vehicles belonging to companies that boast large fleets across multiple cities. It plans to start with San Francisco, New York City, and Austin.

Besides providing internet access, the company’s NetRider devices (or the networks thereof) can help cities harvest some valuable data that can help them better manage everything from the health of roads to waste disposal.