2007/09/02

San Francisco's Municipal WiFi Is Dead - Long Live Muni WiFi

Gavin Newsom and Earthlink really screwed the pooch on their plan to provide free municipal WiFi in San Francisco. The cost estimates were unrealistic--Earthlink didn't even come close--and would have provided service levels akin to...well...dialup. Whee! Moreover, most buildings wouldn't have been covered above third floor, and Earthlink's partner Google would have gotten the rights to scrape all the data on the network for their own purposes. Consequently, the plan nobody but the mayor wanted, had to be negotiated in secret then rammed through the City Council.

But now that it's dead, let's step back and consider how you provide municipal WiFi. I contend that it's easy. In fact, all the infrastructure is already in place.

Where I live, I'm saturated by over 20 802.11 networks, and a bunch of them are "open" networks run at local coffee shops. So here's the thing: If San Francisco wants city-wide WiFi, all they have to do is put in place a program that subsidizes the existing networks for providing free access. Do you live in a known "dead zone"? Make your network available, and ask the city for reimbursement. The city, for it's part, just has to allocate the money and put in place some reasonable requirements for use and availability. I'm willing to bet the subsidizing existing operators would be many times cheaper than what Earthlink proposed and wouldn't allow Google to run a demographic analysis on all our city's residents.

So...are you listening Mayor Newsom? Or have you already lost interest?

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5 Comments:

Frog! I sure hope you've got his ear, and those of teh council-folk as well. That's a plan which would work well in any fairly densely populated municipality.

I'd open up own router for naught but an assurance of non-liability sans proof that I knew of any illegal activities taking place over it. These things (routers) do keep log files, eh.

Good idea!
Sounds like a great idea! ;)
Did you see Gavin Newsom's new campaign slogan?
Michael, Suzie-Q... Thanks, but Newsom won't ever do it because it wouldn't be "his" plan. City Council as well. If there is anything our leaders here in Babylon by the Bay treasure, it's their egos.

W.C. Varones... Nice sign! Suppose Newsom has managed to gain some focus? Naw...I doubt it.
Knock, knock, knock...test, one two three...is this thing on? Nope, the Mayor has so won the election without even trying, he knows he doesn't have to listen to us, even if we have good ideas.

Blog on kvatch, blog on all.

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