TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Internet Service Providers Warily Eye Hub WiFi Plan

Internet Service Providers Warily Eye Hub WiFi Plan

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 11 Feb 2006 16:25:25 -0500

By Robert Weisman, Globe Staff

Advocates of a citywide wireless data network in Boston and the
companies that currently sell Internet access in the city are eyeing
each other warily as a new Boston WiFi Task Force opens its campaign
to turn the entire city into a wireless hot spot.

Representatives of Comcast Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., and
RCN Corp., which provide high-speed Internet connections to thousands
of Boston households via cable modems or digital subscriber lines,
said they are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the task force
unveiled by Mayor Thomas M. Menino on Wednesday.

But the effort clearly is raising anxiety at the Internet service
providers, which have watched with alarm as other cities and towns
across the nation have launched universal wireless Internet
initiatives. "We would certainly see any new entrant into the
broadband market as competition," affirmed Cliff Lee, a spokesman for

Verizon supported a Pennsylvania bill prohibiting municipalities from
building WiFi networks, but it ultimately struck an accord exempting
Philadelphia. Nationwide, cities and towns from San Francisco to
Cambridge to Tempe, Ariz., are either working on or have launched WiFi
networks. WiFi, short for wireless fidelity, allows laptop computers
and other devices to connect to the Net at high speeds via radio

Task force members, meanwhile, have begun fielding inquiries from
Internet service providers and other vendors that want to learn more
and potentially participate in the initiative. The panel is developing
a process to solicit ideas and feedback from vendors.

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