In nearly all semi-progressive, semi-wealthy cities there seems to be development for a free WiFi network—usually available in the business district/downtown area. In my home town of Sarasota, Florida, our free wireless has been up and running for almost three years. So why is it that the cities you’d most likely expect to be ahead of the curve, have been tied up in their wireless contracts?
Ambitious city-wide networks like the one planned in Boston have been ridiculed before they even left city hall. Most recently, Portland’s plans were halted as soon as the purportedly free wireless provider demanded free money. Numerous lessons have been learned from the stalls and plan changes in Philadelphia’s municipal wireless, and numerous more will be learned from the recent bill to congress for a hastily constructed, nation-wide wireless band.
Earthlink is one of the main bidders for these city-wide wireless initiatives, and consistently shows its lack of foresight. But then again wouldn’t the more popular ISPs bid well on these contracts if they actually thought such contracts were plausible?
A report released this year from the Institute of Local Self Reliance gives us this seldom-touted quotation, “Wireless solves the mobility problem; fiber solves the speed and capacity problems; and public ownership offers a network built to the benefit of the community.” If only practice was as sound as theory.