In an attempt to regain some of its Silicon Valley shine, San Jose, California is taking another run at municipal Wi-Fi. The city hopes that by covering a 1.5 square mile block of downtown with fast, robust wireless Internet access, it will become more attractive to the technology entrepreneurs who have, in recent years, been… Continue reading
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About BeccaBecca joined ILSR to work on American Voice 2004, then stayed on to develop the telecommunications initiative. She is presently focused on the financial and economic considerations behind municipal broadband efforts.
A growing number of opinion leaders are rallying behind the argument that only federal leadership can stop the United States’ slide into broadband oblivion. In a widely circulated document, attorneys Jim Baller and Casey Lide set out their plan for developing a National Broadband Strategy, the crux of which is a blue ribbon task force that would establish national goals, and develop recommendations on how to get there. So far, the most substantial Congressional movement is West Virginia Senator John D. Rockefeller’s resolution advocating legislation toward this end.
It’s impossible to be against setting up a blue ribbon task force. Certainly, we need a national discussion about how to best use public assets, in particular the airwaves and rights of way, to rapidly expand broadband access. But we object to the way the discussion is being framed.
In a now widely dispersed article, Greg Richardson of Civitium has a bone to pick with my organization. His complaint? Our “far left” “bias”“on public ownership” is “damaging to the public broadband movement.”
Dispensewith the red flag words, and you’ll find an important issue. Civitium and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance have very different definitions of the word “public.”
A new report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance argues that a publicly owned information infrastructure is the key to healthy competition, universal access, and non-discriminatory networks.
“Localizing the Internet: Five Ways Public Ownership Solves the U.S. Broadband Problem” notes that high speed broadband is becoming ever more widespread. But, it argues, the way in which that broadband is introduced may be as important as whether it is introduced.
San Francisco has launched an initiative to provide wireless access everywhere in the city. A number of Supervisors and residents have raised the possibility of the City following in the footsteps of over 200 other U.S. cities that already own information networks. To date, the City has not addressed that question, or at least no such study has been forthcoming.
Media Alliance invited the Institute for Local Self-Reliance to investigate the economics of a publicly owned information infrastructure. This report contains a preliminary financial analysis. Without complete information from the City, the numbers are not precise. But we think this analysis could serve as the basis for an informed discussion. We urge the City to undertake its own more detailed examination and make it public.
Becca Vargo Daggett Discusses Public Ownership on Wi-Fi Networking News
Philadelphia and Earthlink have developed the first contract between a major city and a private network owner for citywide wireless. This paper presents the highlights of the Wireless Philadelphia Broadband Network Agreement between Earthlink and Wireless Philadelphia (the city government-chartered non-profit), with my comments in italics. At the end is a summary of the overall lessons cities might learn from Philadelphia’s experience.
This is not a complete representation of the contract. Rather, I have emphasized those points that have not been included in news reports but re important to other cities considering privately owned citywide wireless networks.
The overwhelming majority of cities that have recently announced municipal wireless projects are planning privately owned and operated networks. Hundreds of cities are currently making decisions about the future structure of their high-speed information networks.
The speed with which this is occurring, and the knee-jerk tendency for cities to favor private ownership, demands that community groups immediately and directly challenge cities about who should own and control their future information networks. Continue reading
The media are abuzz with a new high-tech phrase: “net neutrality”. It may sound complicated, but the concept is quite simple. Right now, the Internet treats all traffic equally. Companies that own the connections from your home and business to the Internet now want to start giving some traffic priority over others, for a fee.
Somecompare this proposal to an express toll road. Users pay extra for faster service. But Internet service subscribers already pay a monthly toll based on the speed of service. You pay more for speeds of 3 Mbps than 750 Kbps.
When the Star Tribune recently asked Bill Beck, the city’s deputy chief information officer, why Minneapolis never even considered public ownership of a proposed city-wide high-speed information network, he insisted, "The city lacks the money, competence and ability to build and manage that kind of a network right now."
That isa remarkable admission. More than 100 U.S. cities, including five in Minnesota, already have decided they were competent to build and manage high-speed information networks. Few if any regret their decisions. Most recently, St. Louis Park opted for municipal ownership. At least a half-dozen other metropolitan cities, and consortiums of cities, are seriously considering public ownership.