Philadelphia. . . . San Francisco. . . .
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Large cities such as Philadelphia and San Francisco see wireless broadband technology as a low-cost solution to providing broadband access to low-income residents.
They also believe that these Wi-Fi networks can help them save millions of dollars in operational costs by providing broadband connectivity for public-safety and other agencies within city government. Many believe the networks will help boost economic development by drawing more people to the city.
Philadelphia, which plans to have its citywide Wi-Fi network up and running by summer 2006, is the poster child of the municipal wireless movement.
Now Chicago. . . .
By DAVE CARPENTER
AP Business Writer, BusinessWeek
Chicago has hundreds of Wi-Fi hotspots in places like coffee shops, bookstores and libraries, where anyone can walk in, sit down and connect to the Web. Hoping to extend that wireless blanket to all 228 square miles, the city plans to ask technology companies this spring to submit proposals for the project.
While it’s too soon to say how the system would operate, the goal is to make Internet access “broad and affordable” for residents and heighten Chicago’s appeal for businesses and tourists alike, according to Chris O’Brien, the city’s chief information officer. . . .
“We think it’s important for residents of the city and tourists and businesses to have lots of different ways to connect,” O’Brien said. “For a city as big as Chicago, with the vibrant business community and diverse citizen base that we have, you want to make sure all kinds of technology are available to them as they work and enjoy entertainment options.”
If all goes smoothly, the system could be running as soon as 2007 . . .
Other cities with or planning Wi-Fi networks include: Anaheim, CA, Arlington, VA, Brookline, MA, Denver, Co, Miami, FL, Minneapolis, MN, Grand Rapids, MI, New York, NY, Pittsburgh, PA.
What Does This Mean?
While you and I may or may not be going Wi-Fi, the world around us is. Cities large and small are planning for Wi-Fi and putting networks up. Even Google has a hand in Wi-Fi with something called Secure Access which is secret. Find out more about it at Secure Access FAQ. (Thank you, Wired News.)
The goal, of course, is national-wide access. With that come the large, long-term legal, moral, ethical, practical, business questions:
- Who runs it?
- Who owns it?
- Who pays for it?
- Who makes sure no one is shut out?
- How do you prevent conflicts of interest?
However, there is one immediate, compelling elephant in the room.
Any business that isn’t online needs a plan to get there now.
–ME “Liz” Strauss