TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Municipal Wi-FI and Incumbents

Municipal Wi-FI and Incumbents

Dean (
4 Mar 2005 13:38:18 -0800

This is from yesterday's Guardian. It includes an interesting
juxtaposition of Verizon's and BT's positions on municipal Wi-Fi



So far, so good. But city hall soon ran into serious problems that
could stifle the wireless dreams of municipalities across the world. US
cable companies, which see citizen-funded networks as a threat to their
commercial fiefdoms, backed a bill that effectively outlawed municipal
wireless in the state of Pennsylvania. In December, the state passed a
bill forbidding any municipality in the state from running an
"information network". Only a last-minute deal with Verizon, the
state's de facto monopoly provider of broadband, saved Philadelphia's
vision. Verizon promised to allow the city's network, but at the
expense of the rest of the state. At least 15 US states are considering
similar telco-backed bills to ban municipal networks.

To Dianah Neff, Philadelphia's chief information officer, municipal
wireless is no mere luxury. Neff, a veteran public servant, sees
municipal networks as a potential leveller in a city where 70% of state
school children receive free school meals. "We have a vibrant
downtown," she says, "but we need to make sure all our neighbourhoods
can compete in the knowledge economy.


Chris Clark, chief executive for BT Wireless Broadband, said the UK's
biggest broadband supplier would not be taking the same approach as
Verizon. "The community wireless projects, which started in an
environment of concern about rural service, are evolving into providing
all sorts of innovative services," he says. "It would be a pity to see
such innovation stifled. More recently, a number of metropolitan
wireless projects have been in the pipeline. BT is fully supportive of
these initiatives."

TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: City of Independence was looking very
favorably at muni-wi-fi for our town, but SBC -- Southwestern Bell --
put a kibosh on it, threatening to get the state commission to do a
rule like that proposed for Pennsylvania. SBC did not like the idea
at all of a community giving away for free the DSL service they
charge an arm and a leg for. PAT]

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