Dave Totten's personal voyage to the land of IT Fluency, and other Digital Governance issues.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Community Wi-Fi update

This might be a sign that the folks who stand to gain from community Wi-Fi may be outrunning those who stand to lose by having free Internet access in public spaces provided by local government. An article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (a fantastic paper) says that Cisco has designed a Wi-Fi access point that is specifically designed to work with community projects. The gear is designed to go on rooftops and does not need to be configured.

So, Google and HP/Cisco on the one hand, and Verizon/Comcast on the other. Assuming the public can keep any more silly legislation from being passed by the telecoms, I predict the hardware & software makers will clobber the access providers.

Verizon does not own the Internet. They are not entitled to a monopoly on access... only the right to provide one possible access route.

Here's the article in the P-I

Meantime, Macedonia, a country with strong connections to GSPIA and Pitt, is rolling out a community Wi-Fi project that will cover more than 1,000 square miles-- talk about a hotspot!

And, down in Texas, a situation similar to Philadelphia's sad affair is playing out in Houston. Like in Philly, Houston mayor Bill White has promissed not to back down, insisting that squabbling telecoms SBC and TimeWarner(AOL) "no good reason to fight it." Unlike Mayor Street in Philly, Mayor White plans to use only private funds to operate the network. He's casting about for a corporate sponsor and has had quite a bit of interest, he says. His goal is not to provide Internet access to the whole city, but to use the network to subsidize access for the poor and to get free services for government agencies.

Check it out in the Houston Chronicle

But, in our nation's capital, legislation is being considered that could throw the whole debate into a tizzy. Quoting from the Chronicle article:

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, a former SBC employee, has introduced a measure that would forbid city governments from competing in the broadband business.

A bill sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., supports such direct competition.

Both measures have been referred to committees.

More than a dozen states have considered their own measures to combat municipal WiFi. A measure introduced in Texas that would have banned government-run WiFi here was killed earlier this year.


Viva la WI-FI Revolution!

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