','subtitle>',$line); echo $line; $line = "\n"; } else if (strstr($line, '','updated>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, '','published>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, ' Impractical Proposals <br> Santa Monica: Foundation Calls for Wi-Fi in Boston


Foundation Calls for Wi-Fi in Boston

Boston Unplugged: Mapping a Wireless Future (pdf), prepared by the Boston Foundation and the Museum of Science at the request of a Beantown council member, argues for public-private partnerships with the likes of Google, Earthlink and Hewlett-Packard to turn cities into giant hotspots. Although public ownership of limited resources has usually been more efficient than state-sanctioned monopolies -- you need only look to the power and water industries for proof this is true, politicians in most places are loathe to spend money on infrastructure since doing so usually requires taxes.

"The foundation for this system will be a wireless fidelity network similar to ones currently under development and deployment in San Francisco and Philadelphia," the study says. "Companies like EarthLink, Google and Hewlett-Packard are extremely interested in partnering with local government...to build a low-cost or no-cost system." The burden of building and maintaining a network should fall on corporate sponsors and not on taxpayers, the Foundation argues, though it is a little light on what this will cost consumers in access and the public in control.

The foundation report, which doesn't look very closely at technical issues, either, calls for a study of the infrastructure needed for a wi-fi network; the creation of a "realistic" timeline for getting it done; a review of security and interference issues; and a plan to incorporate existing wi-fi projects into a community-wide system.

The study doesn't call for an evaluation of the relative costs and benefits of public, public-private and private ownership schemes for wi-fi utilities. From railroad right-of-ways through natural resources on public lands to radio and television channels, public-private partnerships usually amount to the public turning over a valuable resource to corporate exploiters, but even a fee-based city-wide network is better than none at all.


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