Foundation Calls for Wi-Fi in Boston
"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.