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Impractical Proposals Santa Monica
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.
Mad City Broadband: Madison, Wisconsin becomes a hot spot
"It's the hottest wireless internet access around. And very soon the entire city of Madison will be bathed in its toasty glow. What exactly does that mean? Well, simply put, the days of searching for internet hot spots will soon be over." -- from the website. <http://www.madcitybroadband.com/>
Toronto Hydro Telecom, a non-profit subsidiary of the municipal Toronto Hydro Corp., plans to turn Canada's largest city into a metro-sized hotzone. The network will launch in the area of the Bay Street financial district and when complete will encompass the entire city. Access will be free for the first few months, then there will be a fee comparable to local broadband services. Meanwhile, the nearby city of Hamilton, Ontario is applying for a $400,000 grant to do the same thing to its downtown.
Aurora, Illinois was the first city in the United States to install public street lights. Look for wireless equipment on many of those lights providing the populace with free access (for the price of looking at an ad) by the end of this year.
Aurora, pop. 170,000, which issued an RFP late last year looking for companies to install a citywide network, said today it's working with California-based MetroFi on a deployment that should cover the entire 42 square mile city.
MetroFi provides almost identical service in the Silicon Valley towns of Cupertino, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale. Access for anyone with Wi-Fi equipment is free at speeds of 1Mbps download and 256Kbps upload; users who want to avoid the commercials can pay $20 a month...