Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Municipal Wireless: Social Good or Private Gain?

Municipal Wireless: Social Good or Private Gain?

Is your city next? Why not? talk it up with your elected officials and join the public wireless movement!

Jon Lebowsky has a great entry about why municipalities should be building and operating public access to the Internet…”if a significant percentage of the population lacks access to information services, who is going to bridge the gap, and how? Private companies provide service only where a clear market opportunity exists, and only to a market that will pay top dollar for service”…the result is another divide - wireless haves and have nots.

“…if services are provided by subscription only, and in different areas, will it constrain economic development and innovation?,

"…as long as policymakers and others see networks as a business, not a public good, we will be struggling for what should be fundamental and universal access to information services."

Here's an interactive map on Municipal broadband initiatives nationwide (US)

See stats about public wireless implementation in St. Cloud, Florida

From fight to free enterprise.... "
Companies that fought against Wi-Fi now rush to join in" by Amol Sharma, The Wall Street Journal (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), 21 March:

"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… Now, in an effort to compete with similar initiatives by Google Inc., EarthLink Inc. and others, some of the companies are changing their tune.

"'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. 'That can't be ignored. I don't care how much you dislike it as a telco incumbent. You just can't get away from this wave.'

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