Some obvious choices finished high on the list. Techie Seattle, home to Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ), came in second, one notch above last year. San Francisco, the closest major city to Silicon Valley, was fourth for the second time. Though rich in hot spots, both lagged behind other cities in broadband adoption. (It works the other way, as well: Boston ranks second in broadband but poorer showings in the other categories dragged it down to 13th overall.) Two other major metropolises, Chicago and New York, improved their standings from 17th to 8th and 12th to 9th, respectively, to make the top 10, driven by more widespread adoption of high-speed Internet.
Other top-10 finishers were more surprising, such as third-place Raleigh, N.C. Raleigh Chief Information Officer Gail M. Roper attributes the city's strong showing to its thriving entrepreneurial culture, technology initiatives, major universities and fast-growing, highly-educated population. As CIO of Kansas City (No. 22) from 1996 to 2006, Roper focused on digital-divide issues, working to improve youth and student access to the Internet. In Raleigh, she is considering building a citywide wi-fi network to expedite public services, cut telecom costs and deliver tourism information.
Measuring a city's "wired-ness" is an imperfect science. New York's less-wired outer boroughs weigh down its overall ranking. Some new initiatives aren't yet reflected in the data we used. Several lower-ranked cities, like Philadelphia (No. 26), are building wireless networks that provide wi-fi to downtown areas. In New York, CBS is constructing hot spots in midtown Manhattan.
To compile our list, we began with top markets in broadband adoption as determined by Internet market research firm Nielsen Online. Utilizing Nielsen market data eliminated some large, tech-savvy cities, such as San Jose, Calif. (Nielsen aggregates San Jose data with the San Francisco market area, and so San Jose's broadband can't be accessed separately.) We also dropped cities that didn't make the U.S. Census Bureau's top 100 list, including Salt Lake City and Hartford, Conn. We then calculated the number of service providers per city using statistics from the FCC and wi-fi hot spots per capita via public hot spot directory JiWire.
The rankings are here ... Pittsburgh ranked 23, ahead of Philadephia (26).
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