Print 18 comment(s) - last by rsmech.. on Sep 5 at 1:07 AM

Gavin Newsom continues to be a strong supporter of citywide WiFi  (Source: Official Gavin Newsom web site)
Earthlink crumbles, and with it the plans of must urban municipal WiFi

As EarthLink continues in a rather nasty downward spiral, the likelihood of seeing citywide WiFi in San Francisco does not really look promising. 

EarthLink's self destruction
didn't initially concern metropolitan residents much, but the company's part in the WiFi deal was important -- Google would offer a slower service, with EarthLink offering increased speeds for a low payment per month.

Residents cheered when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom envisioned free citywide WiFi for residents and visitors of San Francisco a couple of years ago.  But now the mayor must continue searching for other companies which originally showed interest in offering WiFi to the city.

Even though it's not difficult to find WiFi hot spots in San Francisco, the ability of having WiFi everywhere in the City would be superb.  The San Francisco Metreon, located a block away from Market Street, there are at least 15 active WiFi access points.  A quick visit to the heart of. Financial District also revealed a large number of WiFi points that a user with a notebook or smart phone can use.  However, a trip down to Fisherman's Wharf will reveal only a couple of access points.

EarthLink's faulty business plan cost the company a $5 million penalty after failing to come up with a wireless network for the city of Houston.  EarthLink now has until June next year to either start building the network or find a way to sneak out of the contract with Houston. 

The company also had to bow out of a deal with Chicago.  The city originally intended to provide infrastructure to AT&T or Earthlink for city-wide access, but negotiations fell apart when neither company could settle terms on cash for the project.

Earthlink's largest other muncipal WiFi plans have not panned out in any significant manner yet.  The Earthlink Lompoc, California, project cost the company $3 million but netted less than 500 users at last count.  The company's Anaheim and Philadelphia networks are still under construction.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Public Wi-Fi = Waste of Taxpayer Dollars
By Kuroyama on 9/3/2007 1:04:09 AM , Rating: 2
Every public library I've ever visited has a wait for use of a computer with Internet.

If the government spends X dollars on internet and wi-fi expenses, then what is the problem with them guaranteeing that they'll pay Y < X dollars to any company which will provide citiwide wi-fi? If they opt instead to guarantee Y=X dollars if the citiwide wi-fi is free at low speeds to everyone then what's the problem with that? I don't know the actual figures involved, but every article I've seen has said the cities would save money.

I know there's some debate over the monopoly status of the winner, but given all the trouble SF and other cities are having in convincing utilities to let even one firm set up wi-fi on their poles, what's the chance of getting the utilities to let multiple firms use their poles? Here in Massachusetts Verizon doesn't have to pay property taxes on the land their poles are on, which suggests to me that the government is giving them a privilege (probably just a right of way to place the poles) and I don't see why that privilege shouldn't come with a few strings attached, like letting a firm (or two) stick a WiFi router on top of the poles.

RE: Public Wi-Fi = Waste of Taxpayer Dollars
By rsmech on 9/3/2007 1:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
It would be cheaper to add more internet access computers at the library then to set up & maintain this type of infrastructure. If it's a need to have internet access then it might give someone a good reason to use the public transportation to go to the library. Therefore making public transportation at least a little more worth the cost to use a cheaper library internet access. If it's just a want & not a need then gov't should not be taxing for such things.

RE: Public Wi-Fi = Waste of Taxpayer Dollars
By Kuroyama on 9/3/2007 1:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
Please re-read my comment. I was under the impression that this would SAVE money for the government, and not involve any new taxes. So my question is, IF this would save money for the government then where is the problem with them guaranteeing a large purchase (but at a lower cost than their current services) to the PRIVATE company chosen to set up citywide wi-fi. And before anyone says the gov't should not be picking the winners, I'd like a list of the MAJOR metropolitan areas that already have citywide wi-fi, i.e. I don't believe this will come into existence without the local gov't picking a single company to promote (one of these days the cell phone companies will get reasonably priced high speed internet, but hasn't happened yet).

By Oregonian2 on 9/4/2007 3:09:29 PM , Rating: 2
Portland's(Oregon) city-wide WiFi system is about a quarter done and by contract is supposed to be finished about this time next year. There's a lot of complaints about coverage, especially indoors -- although those who do get connections seem to get very fast connections. And it's free to users (with an advertising banner, removable by paying for service). Usage has been fairly high and expectation is that advertising revenue will be more than enough to sustain the system when finished (but probably not giving the builders the return on investment wanted).

It's also free to the City. City only "paid" right of way rights for the private company building it -- no money out of the taxpayer's pocket at all. Putting more computers into libraries would be MORE expensive than nothing. :-)

Because of the inconsistent coverage in areas already built out there's been strong criticism of the system (although because it's "free" to users, I'm not sure the strength of the podium those critical are standing on -- other than venting disappointment in comparison to expectations). If they changed it out for 'N' Wifi, that'd probably fix the coverage problem but I can't see the upgrade happening. :-)

By rsmech on 9/5/2007 1:07:13 AM , Rating: 2
I was under the impression that this would SAVE money for the government, and not involve any new taxes

When has the gov't been interested in saving my money? The fastest way to spend money is to let the gov't save it for you.

Not an attack against you personally, but the gov't can't save. To them saving means spending more money instead of a hell of a lot of money.

RE: Public Wi-Fi = Waste of Taxpayer Dollars
By TomZ on 9/3/2007 1:24:46 PM , Rating: 2
Every public library I've ever visited has a wait for use of a computer with Internet.

Fine, so maybe communities should spend the money there, and leave city-wide WiFi networks to the private sector, where they properly belong. If it makes sense financially, then the private sector will make the investment. Otherwise, they won't. Unfortunately, local governments are not as efficient in their decision making as companies and markets typically are.

RE: Public Wi-Fi = Waste of Taxpayer Dollars
By Kuroyama on 9/3/2007 3:49:31 PM , Rating: 3
If it makes sense financially, then the private sector will make the investment

Not if they don't have easy access to a place to put their routers. It is pretty much guaranteed that a citywide wi-fi service in San Francisco of all places would be quite profitable, but it's simply not possible to set it up without access to somewhere to place all those hundreds of routers.

I think the way these deals are usually structured is that the government agrees to get the utilities to allow wi-fi routers on their poles (this is the main point), and also to make a large purchase (at a lower cost then their current expenditures) to guarantee a sufficient customer base, and in return the wi-fi provider will give free slow speed access. The real goal here is the citiwide wi-fi, and the free access bit is mostly just a sop those politicians who hate to do anything that helps a company (the isp in this case).

These are not supposed to be "tax and spend" programs, or even government trying to manipulate markets. The utility companies have a publicly granted privilege to place their utility poles basically anywhere they see fit, and the government involvement here is (fairly or not) intended to force them to allow a potential competitor to put something on top of those poles. Now, politicians often do a good job of screwing things up, but in theory at least there is no reason why these this need be considered pro-tax, anti-competitive, or anti-private sector.

By m1ldslide1 on 9/4/2007 11:55:52 AM , Rating: 2
I feel like the mobility market has suffered over the last few years given the barriers to entry. In other words, if you don't have the capital to compete with Verizon and AT&T, then your business doesn't have much of a chance in the mobility sector. As we've seen over and over, open-source technology leads to greater advances in a shorter amount of time, ultimately providing better and cheaper products to the consumers. Providing free WiFi with this type of coverage allows consumers to explore other options for their mobility solutions, which will provide the impetus for smaller companies to innovate and enter the market. Given all this, I feel like it completely falls within a municipality's role. To me, the short-term picture is allowing everybody to have connectivity in their homes who normally can't afford other services. Yes, they can go to the library. The bigger picture here is to provide the groundwork for innovation and more value for the consumer. Sort of a "if you build it, they will come" type of thing, and I think we've seen over and over that with regards to technology (specifically the internet), this axion will hold true.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Yahoo Hacked - Change Your Passwords and Security Info ASAP!
September 23, 2016, 5:45 AM
A is for Apples
September 23, 2016, 5:32 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki