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Impractical Proposals Santa Monica
Suffolk County Plans to Offer Free Wireless Internet Access
Suffolk County is planning a wireless system to provide free access to the Internet to the 1.5 million residents who live throughout its 900 square miles. It would be one of the largest government-sponsored wireless networks in the nation.
The system would allow anyone to use computers and P.D.A. devices with wireless capabilities anywhere in the county, and would also be available to visitors, businesses, government agencies, institutions and groups. County officials hope to start installation next year. (New York Times, April 28, 2006)
Community: The Carpe Diem Santa Monica Classic -- Sunday
Run a spectacular course, from the beach on through Main Street, to a picture-perfect finish at the Santa Monica pier. While you’re running, check out the bay – you’re helping to keep it clean for future generations. Cap the day with a massage at the Expo out on the pier, let the music from the after-party blow over you, and ponder this question: "How can they name the first year of a race a classic"?
City settles with group seeking Santa Monica Place documents
Last week, the city settled with the citizens' organization, the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, releasing documents related to meetings between city officials and the Macerich Corporation about the proposed redevelopment of Santa Monica Place, the struggling indoor mall between Third Street and the civic center (The Lookout/SurfSantaMonica.com). Also, check out page 4 of the April 20 edition of the Santa Monica Daily Press (PDF, page 4), the article entitled "It's cheers and jeers for City Hall," for a really good description of the problems faced by residents trying to force the city to release key Macerich mall documents and the pro-developer bias they encountered from the city as it refused to make public documents public.
"It's getting easier to get online around greater L.A. without being tied to your office. This is either a good thing - you can work outdoors or over a cup of coffee for free - or a bad thing: you're never far from the obligations and distractions of your online life..." -- from LAVoice.org. The rest of the story: <http://lavoice.org/article1720.html>
April 4 -- Google took San Francisco. Earthlink won Seattle and is looking to take New York. So who will capture the lucrative wireless network that could likely blanket Santa Monica a year from now?
As City Hall's tech squad busily erects tiny antennas throughout Santa Monica that could signal the start of a wireless infrastructure revolution citywide, other City staff are booting-up a proposal that could slash prices for local consumers by having high-tech companies bid for control of the future system.
"We've put out some feelers and they've come back positive," said Jory Wolf, the City's chief information officer and primary architect for the City's fledgling wireless system, which he said could be expanded to cover all of Santa Monica by next year.
"A request for proposal is going out asking for public and private companies to bid on the contract to take over the assets," said Wolf. "If we don't get an offer we like, we are prepared to blanket the City ourselves."
Santa Monica is one of a handful of cities that have decided to fund "hot spots" -- zones where wireless access is available -- out of City coffers. The cost: approximately $42,000 so far.
Over the past few months, the City has began stitching together a series of free "Wi-Fi hot spots" or zones where wireless devices can access the internet as part of a program called "CityWi-Fi."
When users log on wirelessly from the new library, the Third Street Promenade and Virginia Avenue Park, they are instantly transported to a "CityWi-Fi" homepage, a jumping off-point into the sea of web information.
"So far it's being used quite heavily, so we think it's going to be a big hit," Wolf said of the program, which currently boasts about 500 people logging on per day.
City and business officials are heralding the new service as priceless for Santa Monicans and visitors alike.
"It's a free service, powered by the City, as we like to say," said Marivi Valcourt, marketing director for the Bayside District Corporation, which runs the Downtown, including the Promenade.
"Free Wi-Fi is just another way to attract people Downtown,” Valcourt said. “There's a lot of internet company workers here, as well as visitors and tourists who will appreciate the service."
There is an added advantage to having people go online in hot-zones such as the Promenade, Valcourt said. Every time someone signs on, the first page to come up is the City's Wi-Fi page, which business officials say is tantamount to free advertising for the City and local businesses.
And the three hotspots are likely just the beginning, said Wolf.
In addition to every new public project being prepared for "Wi-Fi" access, the City is also preparing the Civic Center, the Ken Edwards Community Center and the Santa Monica Pier for the service, Wolf said. Even the courtyard outside of City Hall will have wireless access so developers can go on-line while waiting in line.
Phone & cable cos. try to muscle in on municipal wireless
This was in the Wall Street Journal the other day: "Having tried to stop cities from offering cut-rate or free wireless Internet access to their citizens, some large phone and cable companies are now aiming to get into the market themselves.
"Telecom and cable giants have traditionally been critical of city-sponsored broadband initiatives, questioning their financial viability and, in some cases, even pushing for state laws to bar or restrict them. Now, in an effort to compete with similar initiatives by Google Inc., EarthLink Inc. and others, some of the companies are changing their tune.
"AT&T Inc...put in a bid March 7 to build a wireless Internet service for Michigan's Washtenaw County...Cox Communications recently teamed up with two companies to offer wireless Internet access in some Arizona cities, and Time Warner Inc.'s Time Warner Cable has signaled interest in Texas.
"Experts say the companies were forced into the shift in strategy. 'It's inevitable that municipal wireless is going to become prevalent in cities large and small,' said Craig Settles, author of the book Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless....'You just can't get away from this wave.'
"Cities and small localities across the country have started offering their residents cheap or even free access to the Internet either because their areas aren't reached by regional telecom providers or because the available offerings in their areas are too pricey. More than 50 municipalities around the country have already built such systems, and a similar number are at some stage in the process, including Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and Houston, according to Esme Vos, founder of the Web site www.muniwireless.com, which tracks such projects nationally...
"The cities often charge users around $15 a month for the service, though cities such as St. Cloud, Fla., are opting for free access. That compares with cable broadband bills that typically run around $40. DSL services from the large phone companies can run as low as $15 a month for slower speeds, but speeds closer to cable are roughly $30.
"Those economics are a real threat to the large telecom and cable companies, which is why they initially fought hard to stop city-based networks....As they wage those regulatory battles, the large telecom and cable companies are watching competitors jump in to offer municipal-based Wi-Fi services...
"To be sure, both the phone and cable companies say what they have opposed is having to compete with publicly owned or operated services that have access to municipal subsidies or other advantages. They say they have been more open to having local governments facilitate projects by giving out contracts to companies, which is the tack municipalities are increasingly taking."