April 06, 2005
Why WiFi

This LAT article gives a good overview of why cities around the country are looking at installing WiFi networks. In addition to the usual perks of making their cities more attractive to businesses and residents, they have discovered new ways to make that technology work for them in ways that you might not have considered:

The completion of a network of WiFi-equipped utility meters in Corpus Christi, Texas, for instance, will allow the city to reassign 40 employees who now have to hunt around garages and backyards to read them, said Leonard Scott, an information technology manager.

Of course, a city could install a network for its own purposes without making it available to citizens. I don't think HB789 makes that kind of distinction, but even if it does, the benefits are numerous and the costs are small. It's an investment for cities, and it's one they should be allowed to make. Save Muni Wireless has more examples. LAT story via Lasso.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 06, 2005 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack

Just happened to come across an article in the Portland Oregon weekly mag Wilamette Week about a non-profit group that is installing free wireless in a poor but gentrifying neighborhood in Portland:


I haven't read the proposed statute. Does anyone know if it would also prevent this sort of thing? Could a city set up an independent non-profit to run a wireless network?

Posted by: Kent on April 6, 2005 4:02 PM

As it currently stands, HB789 exempts city operations functions like police, health inspections, etc.

However, projects in cities including Dallas and Corpus Christi intend to defray the cost of the network by offering public access through an ISP. That public access would be killed in HB789, for any new projects. It's not clear whether the bill would let Dallas extend its existing project.

After the date of the grandfather clause, cities wouldn't be allowed to provide or support wifi -- on their own, in partnership with a private business, or in partnership with a non-profit.

A reminder of the current status of the bill: it passed the house, and is heading to the Senate Business and Commerce committee.

Posted by: Adina Levin on April 6, 2005 6:21 PM