wireless_graphic_powerpoint_notag.jpgSilicon Valley leaders picked a consortium led by Cisco Systems and IBM to build and operate a free wireless network for up to 2.4 million across the region. But if you look at the details of the deal, it’s unclear how quickly this will come about.

Here is the Mercury News story about the annoucement.

The consortium, called the “Silicon Valley Metro Connect team,” plans to begin building the 1,500 square-mile network this fall, but it will first need to get separate permission from each of the 40 cities that participated in the discussions — not trivial, given that several of those communities have already opted for other providers. The deal struck yesterday was more of a preliminary agreement that the Metro Connect team is an adequate provider, not really a final commitment.

The winning team beat out two other companies, VeriLan and MetroFi, that had reached the final stage. But MetroFi, a start-up that has tried to prove the free WiFi model by focusing on some select markets, already serves San Jose, and most of Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Cupertino. Indeed, Mountain View and Cupertino said they are unlikely to sign up with the Metro Connect consortium — even though they participated in the negotiations.