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In May 2007, Wireless Philadelphia formally accepted EarthLink's Proof of Concept area, a 15-square-mile test zone designed to prove the viability of the 135-square mile municipal Wi-Fi deployment project.
Report says most municipal wireless networks fail to serve the full community

Out of almost 200 cities in the United States that have deployed public Wi-Fi networks, less than half have actually fulfilled their goal of providing citywide service. According to MuniWireless, a firm that tracks Wi-Fi industry trends, political infighting and technical hurdles have presented the biggest barriers to broad deployment of municipal wireless networks in American cities.

While only 44 percent of existing municipal networks have succeeded in rolling out service to their entire community, 32 percent offer only limited hotspot availability and about 20 percent are only available for use by local government employees.

San Francisco's proposed citywide Wi-Fi network has remained on hold for more than two years. The fate of the network, to be installed by Google and Internet service provider Earthlink, will next be discussed at an upcoming July hearing before the city's board of supervisors. The board and the city's mayor have been at odds over the project since its inception.

The nation's most ambitious municipal Wi-Fi project, called Wireless Philadelphia, has fallen far behind schedule because of a series of redesigns and disputes with the local power company over plans to place antennas on utility poles. The network was originally due for completion in 2006, but that has now been extended to the end of 2007.

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Not too sure about city-wide access
By blaster5k on 6/25/2007 12:00:41 PM , Rating: 3
I question whether these networks are an efficient use of money anyway. Do we really need public wireless access everywhere? Is this really the right technology for widespread internet access? It takes a lot of infrastructure to equip a whole city and it may be obsolete pretty quickly, so it seems kind of like a fad to me.

If private businesses want to use it to lure customers, it sounds fine to me, but I'm not really too wild about the wireless city concept. I'd rather eat my food in peace anyway.

RE: Not too sure about city-wide access
By Christobevii3 on 6/25/2007 1:36:55 PM , Rating: 3
I think it depends on the city and whether the whole city needs it. A place that the geography makes it difficult doesn't make much sense and supplying a rural part of a city is sorta stupid.

But what about doing just say dowtown of houston or dallas? A relatively small area, flat, and somewhat dense. That makes sense.

RE: Not too sure about city-wide access
By AsicsNow on 6/25/2007 3:01:42 PM , Rating: 2
Houston and cities in Texas in general are pretty much the opposite of dense. Houston is spread out over such a wide area that it takes 2 hours to go from one side to the other on the highway (not in bad traffic either). So I dont think it'd be the best idea there either.

By soydeedo on 6/26/2007 5:04:35 AM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure the poster was aware of that fact since he/she specifically said downtown.

By dever on 6/26/2007 2:32:05 PM , Rating: 2
whether the whole city needs it
There is no "whole" city that needs it. And since, in most cases, you're using tax money to fund the project, you're redistributing wealth from those who don't want or need public wi-fi to those who do. That means those who are least interested, or least-able to afford wireless internet devices will be subsidizing those who want to kick around town with their laptops and frappacinos. This is the essence of a progressive government. Stealing from everyone to give to a privileged few.

So much BS in the US
By Araxen on 6/25/2007 10:01:44 AM , Rating: 1
To get anything done in this country you have go through massive hurdles. It's no wonder why we keep falling behind on Internet speed and deployment compared to the rest of the world.

RE: So much BS in the US
By AntiM on 6/25/2007 11:10:44 AM , Rating: 2
...disputes with the local power company over plans to place antennas on utility poles.

I think most of the BS is simple greed. I'm not sure what kind of "disputes" their having with the power company, but I can imagine the power company wants a ridiculous amount of money for just allowing a few antennas on their poles.

RE: So much BS in the US
By darkpaw on 6/25/2007 11:26:22 AM , Rating: 2
Considering those poles are usually installed on public right-of-way to begin with, they shouldn't charge for using them at all.

RE: So much BS in the US
By SmokeRngs on 6/26/2007 2:27:03 PM , Rating: 1
Considering those poles are usually installed on public right-of-way to begin with, they shouldn't charge for using them at all.

I don't know the details of it but I can guess at a couple of things. The polls belong to the power company. They pay to put them up and maintain them. This leads to easily seen problems.

The power company would be responsible for installing the equipment in the first place. These are man hours and equipment I doubt the companies would be fully reimbursed for. Considering the number of poles it would take to properly do this, it's not a trivial amount of money.

The power company would also be required to do any an all maintenance to the WiFi equipment since it's mounted on their poles. Between weather and bad equipment, this is a significant amount of time and money in man hours alone. Any time someone bitches about the speed or signal, the electric company would be expected to drop everything and go find out what is wrong. I highly doubt there will be any government contract with them that would cover the trouble and money this would cost.

The power company has every right to charge for anything I have already mentioned here as well as leased space on the poles. It's the company's pole which they put up and they don't need to give away their space on there for free.

RE: So much BS in the US
By TomZ on 6/25/2007 2:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
The real question in this case is whether providing Internet service should be the role of local governments or left to the private sector.

In my opinion, unless there is a compelling need for the government to provide a service, it should be entirely provided by the private sector. Companies will be much more efficient in planning and executing Internet coverage compared to local governments, even when they have private companies handling a portion of the implementation.

RE: So much BS in the US
By berat556 on 6/26/2007 5:24:25 AM , Rating: 2
Yes it is usually true that a private company would be more efficient in creating and maintaining a network but this falls under something economists call public goods,i.e roads, national defense and etc. The internet in my opinion should be considered a public good since like electricity it is a gateway to the modern age, it is used for information, entertainment, communication, and a whole set of other vital uses.

Although the private sector is acting in propagating affordable internet it is not acting in a timely manner and we are falling behind the rest of the world. Example, in Orlando where I live the two mainstream choices for internet are Brighthouse (Timewarner) and Bellsouth(AT&T) which both provide the same level of access at the same price points with the cheapest being $25. Now that Bellsouth is being acquired by ATT they introduced a $10 plan since this was pressed upon them by the FCC as a condition for their merger, they could have done this before but they did not, not because the ecomics of the the price were not there but because they saw no reason to do since they knew brighthouse would not follow and since in my opinion cable and dsl appeal to different segments of the market.

Also the landmark decision of splinting the original AT&T did not have the desired effect as the baby bells never entered each others territory instead being content with the status quo in their respective territory, i.e there was no incentive to compete with the other bells. Only lately have the Bells began competing with cable in their respective territories thanks to the internet which is making their bread and butter the phone line obsolete since the cable companies are using the internet to cheaply provide the same service at almost the same price point but with a lot more features, and cue in the introduction of FIOS by verizion and its almost sister service by ATT.

Portland is slowly getting there.
By Anonymous Freak on 6/25/2007 1:28:51 PM , Rating: 2
Portland is one of the 200, and we're taking a 'let a third party build it, and if it works, the city will subsidize it" approach.

Early on, only the core downtown was covered, and not even that well. Now, we've got about 40% of the city covered (pretty much all the 'large flat' parts, not too much of the hilly parts,) with much better coverage. They originally had antennas so far apart that even a directional antenna had problems connecting. In one area that the company considered 'covered', antennas were 500-1000 feet apart, with buildings in the way. Now they have in-filled with antennas so they are 200-500 feet apart, which makes it actually usable. Now, instead of driving around going "Where the heck can I get a signal from?" I tend to go "Oh, not very good signal here, let's move half a block."

By Oregonian2 on 6/25/2007 7:02:47 PM , Rating: 2
And to be more explicit, the Portland system is NOT being financed by the city. It is being paid for by the third party putting it in (they've ad-bars on access screens, and will take a bit of money so one doesn't get them). IOW - An ad driven system of which I think Microsoft is/was a big advertiser. In any case the city's contribution is allowing its assets (light poles, "right of ways", etc) to be used. Kind of a passive contribution. I'm in the west suburbs so I haven't tried to use it myself, but maybe this summer if they've some nice parks covered....

By Oregonian2 on 6/25/2007 7:04:58 PM , Rating: 2
Report says most municipal wireless networks fail to serve the full community

I wonder how many of those systems were built with the intention of "serving the full community" as they define it ?

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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