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Colorado May Allow Cities To Provide Wifi

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the politics-for-the-war-drivers dept.

Wireless Networking 311

miguelitof writes "According to the TheDenverChannel.com, Colorado cities may soon be able to provide wireless internet service to their citizens. The state Senate will vote today (April 5th) on Colorado Senate Bill 152, which would allow cities to provide wireless internet access. The only proviso would be that cities would have to get approval from voters to use tax dollars. The cost to provide internet access to a 16 square mile area is about $600k. A city could charge as little as $16 a month and cover expenses."

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311 comments

fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145568)

n+1th post!!!!!!!!!! I WIN NOOBS a quality MikeTROLL Production.

first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145570)

ha!

Re:first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145585)

Haha i beat you!

MikeTROLL

I live in colorado (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145573)

And since I had to pay for their stupid stadium that I didn't want, now they can pay for my useful wireless internet access which they may or may not want.

Re:I live in colorado (1)

NaruVonWilkins (844204) | about 9 years ago | (#12145590)

That's a really good point. I'm in Seattle, and we voted down construction of a stadium to replace the Kingdome - but they built TWO anyway, using tax dollars. This can go both ways.

Re:I live in colorado (1)

robertjw (728654) | about 9 years ago | (#12145596)

Heck yeah (although I wasn't specifically against the stadium). If nothing else this should drive down the costs of cable and DSL.

Re:I live in colorado (1)

OECD (639690) | about 9 years ago | (#12145685)

If nothing else this should drive down the costs of cable and DSL.

Or price them out of the market? OK, prob. not since most of them have other business in the area (phone, cable, etc.) but the costs could just as easily go up (broadband as luxury item.)

Re:I live in colorado (1)

robertjw (728654) | about 9 years ago | (#12145873)

More likely would probably kill some of the other local wireless providers. Can't see cable and DSL going up because of it. At least where I live, Comcast has spent a significant amount of money creating it's network and upgrade it's image. It's not going to lose market share to local wireless without a fight. I'm not suggesting it would drop to anywhere near the $16 range, but I'm paying almost $60/month now. I think the cable company has a lot of room to adjust their pricing.

Re:I live in colorado (2, Funny)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | about 9 years ago | (#12145638)

...since I had to pay for their stupid stadium that I didn't want

yes, but a stadium is useful. what possible use could city-wide wireless networking provide? How are you going to get a hot-dog and a $20 dollar beer out of it?

Re:I live in colorado (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145642)

why do you want the government to do what you can already do yourself? [seattlewireless.net] [seattlewireless.net]

Re:I live in colorado (1)

pete-classic (75983) | about 9 years ago | (#12145666)

That's exactly the sort of thinking that made this country great.

More bread! More circuses!

-Peter

PS: I live in Denver. I didn't want the stadium either. (Especially with that atrocious name.) I would enjoy the WiFi, but I oppose it politically.

This line is a Gem (1)

missing000 (602285) | about 9 years ago | (#12145787)

"Jeff Dunn, a spokesman for Qwest, which provides high-speed Internet service, said his company is not worried about competition. He said consumers are more concerned about service, especially when their Internet connection stops working in the middle of the night."

Really? If Qwest thinks I would suffer worse service under any alternate provider they are seriously delirious. Great job guys, you certainly have my vote :)

Re:I live in colorado (1)

cubicleman (739204) | about 9 years ago | (#12145998)

I live in Denver... I'm not sure when or if I would use public WiFi though..it's not like I walk around with my laptop all the time... I use a computer at work and at home.

Re:I live in colorado (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12146078)

Hey here is a question ....if you get free wireless broadband can you hook it to a vonage box and get boradband phone service?

Congradulations Colorado (1)

LiENUS (207736) | about 9 years ago | (#12145575)

This is how it really should be, Here a company is trying to block their competitor from building a new store using money from the local government. Ultimately it was ruled that the citizens should be able to vote for wether their tax dollers got used for it. Of course everyone there wants this new store to open.

Wallmart (1)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12145675)

Ultimately it was ruled that the citizens should be able to vote for wether their tax dollers got used for it. Of course everyone there wants this new store to open.

I've never voted on handing over public tax money to corporations. Nobody ever asked me if I want to give money to a store to open in my neighborhood. I wish they would, I'd like the oppertunity to vote.

I was reading Wallmart has over $1 billion dollars in tax dollars from all of us. That is money we pay to government that is handed over to them. Some places offer free land to large buisnesses to lure them to build factories.

Re:Wallmart (1)

LiENUS (207736) | about 9 years ago | (#12145698)

This is a Bass pro shop in the middle of Livingston parish Louisiana. Not to offend anyone considering my girlfriend lives there. But everyone there is a redneck and looking forward to this shop opening.

Re:Congradulations Colorado (0, Flamebait)

Golias (176380) | about 9 years ago | (#12146036)

Yeah, congratulations.

You are now locked in to paying $16 a month for your city's commie Wi-Fi solution, whether you use it or not.

Connection speeds will undoubtably suck, but you will have few alternatives, because there will be no more mom-and-pop ISP's offering higher-speed DSL solutions. Hell, your local phone and companies might not bother with anything other than large corporate accounts now.

You can also say goodbye forever to all the free Wi-Fi hotspots you had all over town. Why would a coffee shop provide free wireless as a draw for customers when the air around them is filled with a "pre-paid" signal?

Best of all, if your city government is anything like every other city government I've ever looked at closely, part of your fee which you think is going to bandwidth will be going to fact-finding "conferences" for city council members in the Bahamas.

Congratulations!

Seems fair enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145576)

In other news, the FBI has just announced plans to hack into Colorado resident's computers using their recently discovered Wireless hack.

600k? (1)

Cruithne (658153) | about 9 years ago | (#12145583)

A month or up front? If up front, what is the monthly cost? With numbers like that, it almost seems like they could make money off of offering it...

I think the article is mistaken (3, Insightful)

phaetonic (621542) | about 9 years ago | (#12145584)

With a population of 37,500 sharing a 802.11g connection, I'd hate to think what kind of latency would occur with BitTorrent and gaming...

Re:I think the article is mistaken (2, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | about 9 years ago | (#12145641)

I didn't see where it said 802.11 was the technology there were considering, though it is a possibility. I personally would rather see 802.16 (WiMax). It has a greater distance and more bandwidth. If a city were to build something like this and bring in business to help offset the costs, a wonderful, high speed network could be created with little or no ongoing costs to the public.

You could use 3 channels in a grid pattern (3, Informative)

melted (227442) | about 9 years ago | (#12145760)

You could use 3 channels in a grid pattern and place access points so that APs using the same channel cause no interference to each other. Then, you could use some hardcore APs which provide QOS to wireless clients, so if you're running bittorrent, you get 128K download rate, whereas someone just browsing the web would get the rest of the bandwidth. It's all technical problems that can be solved.

Re:You could use 3 channels in a grid pattern (1)

Atryn (528846) | about 9 years ago | (#12146075)

It's all technical problems that can be solved.
For how much more $$$? I'm not sure where the originator came up with the 600k number, but at the pace of technology change two questions come up right away:
  1. What is the cost of making the ongoing technical changes to the network to keep up (including monitoring to see what folks are using and paid staff to understand what these new emerging technologies are, etc. etc.)
  2. Do you think a government sponsored or government run program will be able to be as responsive as technology changes as a private venture?

On the surface... (2, Insightful)

ScooterBill (599835) | about 9 years ago | (#12145595)

it sounds like a great idea. However, local governments don't have the same incentives to provide good service at low cost. I would hope that this would still allow private companies to compete.

Long term, it would be nice to have high speed wireless access everywhere and have this be a public services paid for through taxes. Similar to public restrooms, drinking fountains, parks, etc.

Re:On the surface... (1)

s20451 (410424) | about 9 years ago | (#12145678)

Long term, it would be nice to have high speed wireless access everywhere and have this be a public services paid for through taxes. Similar to public restrooms, drinking fountains, parks, etc.

Yes, except you don't need a relatively expensive device to access public restrooms, parks, and so on. Providing wifi only benefits those who can afford laptops or similar devices, which means the middle class and up.

Free wifi sounds nice, but like any luxury it should be left to the private sector, who will probably do a better job over the long term -- at a guaranteed cost of zero to taxpayers.

Re:On the surface... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145861)


Yes, except you don't need a relatively expensive device to access public restrooms, parks, and so on.


You need to pay a fortune to access the stadium that was built with public funds. And then you have to pay even more for the beer.


it should be left to the private sector, who will probably do a better job over the long term -- at a guaranteed cost of zero to taxpayers.


ROTFLMAO!!!!

What private sector enterprise has EVER missed the chance to stick its nose in the public trough while keeping service down, fees high and profits to themselves?

That is what the private sector is all about. Provide as little as possible while charging as much as you can get away with, and if you can double bill the government along the way, then you have scored!

Verizon (0)

drewzhrodague (606182) | about 9 years ago | (#12145766)

If you think about it, Verizon does not seem to be interested in providing a good service at a low cost. I'll be the local governments, even when botched, will produce a better and cheaper product. Hell, just using Wi-Fi for the local governments' telecommunications (voice + data), they should save tens of thousands of dollars -- minimum.

Re:On the surface... (1)

cmburns69 (169686) | about 9 years ago | (#12145887)

The problem is that there is not enough competition on the real marketplace for the existing companies to give good customer service.

I believe governmental entrance into this market will have the effect of raising the bar for everybody.

In effect, everybody wins!

This is a SHOCK and a SHAME. (5, Funny)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | about 9 years ago | (#12145597)

Public tax dollars should NEVER go to provide useful services to the people. Sounds suspiciously like communism to me. What about the poor companies? Its a slippery slope people, next thing you know the government will be picking up garbage and paving streets! Stop it now before its too late!

Re:This is a SHOCK and a SHAME. (1)

stubear (130454) | about 9 years ago | (#12145637)

Garbage collection and street repair is often subconracted. I have no problem with cities providing free wi-fi if hey subcontract the work out. However, I do have a problem with government running or becoming a business entity, especially when tax dollars are used.

Re:This is a SHOCK and a SHAME. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145682)

I know you're attempting the use of sarcasm ...

But actually you got it right: the government should not be providing garbage services and owning the streets.

The U.S. Postal Service is a good example... (4, Interesting)

ShatteredDream (636520) | about 9 years ago | (#12145699)

of what happens when the government locks out private competition and runs its own service. It costs $0.37 to send a single letter and by law, UPS and Fedex cannot send first class mail. So what that means is that you have to pay more for a service the government provides because it doesn't give you a choice. It's either the government's service or no service at all.

Where I live in Virginia, you can get free or low cost WiFi in any of the coffee shops, and eventually other places will no doubt start providing it. I don't want my local government providing socialized WiFi in my area because local governments are notorious for being inept at spending control and quality of service. I'd rather pay adelphia for my access, have a wireless router on the connection and be able to go to a coffee shop and get free when I'm out and about. Barnes & Nobles' starbucks cafe charges $4.00 for 2 hours, but it's a good quality of service.

Next thing you know, though, it won't be the government picking up trash, but government telling you that you cannot compete with it. That's the way it works. There is nothing that pissess off government bureaucrats than the idea that the citizenry can go elsewhere and completely ignore them.

Oh and add in the fact that government-run Wifi will probably be completely open to law enforcement since it's a government service, not a private service. Watch the local cops argue that since it is a government utility, they don't need a warrant to log every action you take and periodically scan through them for criminal violations. That's one thing you really don't ever have to worry about the private sector allowing.

So is Amtrak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145744)

Amtrak is also a good example, for the same reasons you cited. Amtrak trains are notoriously late, and very outdated.

Re:This is a SHOCK and a SHAME. (0, Troll)

buttfuckinpimpnugget (662332) | about 9 years ago | (#12145795)

Public tax dollars should NEVER go to provide useful services to the people

You know, you say this as a joke but it really is true. And for just one reason: Government gets it's money from taxes. Taxes are theft. Theft is immoral even if you label yourself a government. You can talk about the benefits all day long and I don't care if they outweigh the costs. Stealing is wrong.

Re:This is a SHOCK and a SHAME. (1)

mzwaterski (802371) | about 9 years ago | (#12145943)

You sir are an idiot...

I suppose the gas station steals from you, but generously provides you will gasoline. Have you ever driven on a city street? Have you ever gone to a park? Oh, nevermind, you probably haven't left that basement in twenty-five years.

Taxes are payments to cover services provided, learn to deal with it!

Re:This is a SHOCK and a SHAME. (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 9 years ago | (#12146004)

They should instead privatize the streets, including the street you live on. Then the company that bought it can charge YOU for the privilege of leaving and entering your driveway. And if you don't like that, sell your house and buy different one on a street whose owners' policies you DO like. Unless of course after you move, the owner of the street you used to live on buys the street you now live on.

But that's private enterprise, isn't it? It's "theft" for the government to levy a tax in exchange for services. It's "private enterprise" for a corporation to require large sums of money for those same exclusive services. (Thinking of natural monopolies here, like the ROAD (singular) to your house, or the fact that I don't really want competitive electric poles and wires strung up there.)

Keep in mind I'm not being a government apologist, here. I'm just a lot more cynical about private enterprise and the Free Market. Both have their good points, and their bad points. Any caveman can grunt, "Government BAD, Private Enterprise GOOD!" but that doesn't make it so.

Re:This is a SHOCK and a SHAME. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145808)

It's a matter of priorities. If you've got great bus service, great hospitals, great libraries, great schools, clean streets, regular garbage and recycling collection, no homeless begging on the street etc. etc. then why not have a treat.

Otherwise, get your head screwed on right.

Only $600K to do 16 sq mi ? (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about 9 years ago | (#12145607)

If that's all the outlay required, what say a few of us Slashdotters got together, put a business plan which calls for $1mill, goto some some VCs and tell them about the next sure thing, then take the company public and retire by November.... Or did I miss something?

Yes, yes you did. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145719)

The correctly formatted version of your post:

" If that's all the outlay required, what say a few of us Slashdotters got together, put a business plan which calls for:

1) $1mill
2) some VC
3) sure thing
4) ?
5) Profit!"

Re:Only $600K to do 16 sq mi ? (1)

Max_Wells_SH (863873) | about 9 years ago | (#12145733)

If that's all the outlay required, what say a few of us Slashdotters got together, put a business plan which calls for $1mill, goto some some VCs and tell them about the next sure thing, then take the company public and retire by November.... Or did I miss something?

You missed "2. ????".

What sort of service? (1)

CdBee (742846) | about 9 years ago | (#12146009)

Are we talking ISP-grade hardware here (non-NATted connection with all ports open to every user) or something simpler like a few dozen T1 lines and NAT routers on top of street-lighting posts (giving a connection which is good for surfing but bad for P2P as ports cant be forwarded)?

Some services were made for government (0)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12145615)

I love the idea of the local city providing wi-fi access. If only they would offer phone and cable service. These are services people use as much as garbage collection or roads. Plus, government can use economies of scale to provide much lower costs than any buisness could. Buisnesses never cut costs. Never. With our luck, the best we could get is a mail-in rebate.

Re:Some services were made for government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145655)

And you think the government cuts costs? ...Ya I know off-topic, but I had to vent.

Re:Some services were made for government (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145694)

Well, at least as far as healthcare, they do. Take a look at socialized healthcare systems in the world - check costs vs. lifespans/infant mortality/etc. In general, they're very cheap for the QoS that they provide.

A good chunk of total healthcare costs are related to insurance and billing overhead. Simplifying the system yields huge benefits, in cases like that. Certainly, this doesn't apply to all government programs...

Re:Some services were made for government (1)

michrech (468134) | about 9 years ago | (#12145782)

Yeah, companies never cut costs (HUGE lay-offs, cuts in benifits, etc, while the Exec's raise their own pay and keep customer prices exactly the same).

Nope.., Never happens...

Of course, less than one minute on google will show you news article after news article that proves the opposite, but hey, this is Slashdot, so lets ignore all the facts, eh?

Re:Some services were made for government (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 9 years ago | (#12145806)

"Buisnesses" (sic) never cut costs.

What planet do you come from? Profits come from the difference between prices and costs.

Governments may have an advantage of economy of scale, but over time that will be overwhelmed by union featherbedding, corruption, giving sinecures to family members, etc.. What's missing is a profit motive to run economically and competitively.

Re:Some services were made for government (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 9 years ago | (#12145848)

"Buisnesses" (sic) never cut costs.

What planet do you come from? Profits come from the difference between prices and costs.


I think he meant businesses never cut costs to their customers. Which is true, unless they are forced to by competitive pressure. Like you said, it's income minus costs, so why would they want to reduce income? If it won't get them more sales, it's counter-productive.

Re:Some services were made for government (5, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 9 years ago | (#12145809)

You make a good point, but "lower costs than any business could" seems a red herring to me. It's the same red herring that all the opponents of this bill use -- the idea that the government is going to be competing with businesses and have an unfair advantage over them.

While implementations may vary, I highly doubt that the government is going to be in the business of building wi-fi equipment, routers, etc. They are going to hire other companies to do this. They are going to hire other companies to do maintenance when necessary, and they are eventually going to have to pay an ISP to connect their wi-fi service to the Internet.

What this means is that there is going to be plenty of opportunity for businesses to make money providing wi-fi service to a city.

Of course they might not make as much money as they would charging monthly service fees to individuals in the city, because the city has collective bargaining power. Boo hoo. They know that the government is not going to be competing with them per se, but rather limiting their ability to gouge customers. They're just using the "competition" argument to invoke the name of Capitalism in the same cynical way that patriotism is invoked to get us to agree with things that have nothing to do with patriotism.

Always be wary of a large corporate/government entity that says that you should not be able to pool your resources with others and thus enjoy the same benefits as they do. Always be wary of anyone whose definition of a level playing field is the status quo with them holding all the advantages.

Takes the fun out of... (1)

bird603568 (808629) | about 9 years ago | (#12145623)

wardriving. How hard would it be to get a signal? Also how hard would it be to break encryption if there is any?

$16 / month? (4, Interesting)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | about 9 years ago | (#12145626)

I live in Milwaukee, which is approximately 16 square miles. Within that 16 square mile area, there are around 600,000 residents (talking City of Milwaukee, not the metro area). If the cost to provide wireless runs $600K/month, that comes to $1/citizen/month. Even if you guess that it would cost 10 times as much (given the way our local government works ;), that's still only $10/month. Where is that $16/m figure coming from?

Re:$16 / month? (2, Insightful)

Telastyn (206146) | about 9 years ago | (#12145708)

A lower population density. Most likely due to the more uneven terrain in colorado, as compared to wisconsin.

Re:$16 / month? (2, Informative)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | about 9 years ago | (#12145774)

Twice the population density in Milwaukee vs Denver:

http://www.internest.com/city/milwaukeewi.asp [internest.com]
http://www.internest.com/city/denverco.asp [internest.com]

So Denver would be $2/person. I actually think the population density of the states would be similar, given the fact that the upper half of Wisconsin is very midly populated (it's all forest) and the lower half just has a few bigger cities (Milwaukee, Madison) with the rest being farmland and glacial land.

Re:$16 / month? (1)

S.O.B. (136083) | about 9 years ago | (#12146011)

I don't know where you learned math but according to the stats you linked to for Denver:

3,700 people/sq mi X 16 sq mi = 59200 people

$600,000 / 59200 people = $10.14 / person

Not $1 or $2. Allowing for the fact that not everyone will sign up (such as children) and some people will share a connection and $16 is pretty reasonable.

Re:$16 / month? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145850)

Actually, Denver is quite flat. If one were to draw a north/south line through denver, most everything east of that line is flat/plains. About 30min west of downtown you hit the foothills, then the mountains.

Re:$16 / month? (1)

iammaxus (683241) | about 9 years ago | (#12145791)

And you are going to force every citizen to pay for it? That includes small children, people who get there service other ways, etc. In addition, I wouldn't be so sure what that 600k/month figure actually means.

Re:$16 / month? (1)

mapmaker (140036) | about 9 years ago | (#12145832)

Where is that $16/m figure coming from?

I dunno, but it's not from the $600K. The submitter failed to mention that the $600K figure is the setup cost and has nothing to do with the monthly cost of providing the service.

Re:$16 / month? (2, Interesting)

boster (124383) | about 9 years ago | (#12145908)

And don't forget that if these cities mirror most American large and medium sized cities, then many, if not most, users will be people who don't live in the WiFi zone or even in the city. Most users will be people who work or are doing business downtown.

I'm all for "free" WiFi for areas like this, but charging only those who live in that zone is not the way to go. It indirectly benefits the whole metro area. Widen the tax base and then you only charge pennies a month. Obviously, if there are only geogrphic centers of commerce besides downtown, it then behooves the city to provide "free" WiFi to those areas too as resources allow.

Re:$16 / month? (1)

tOaOMiB (847361) | about 9 years ago | (#12145916)

From RTA, it sounds like they would use tax dollars to buy equipment, but they would charge for service; i.e. not every citizen has to buy the service.
Perhaps they are estimating the customer base, and figuring out what they would have to charge to cover post-setup expenses.

Milwaukee - 16 square miles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145965)

I wager that Milwaukee is much larger than 16 square miles. 16 square miles is 4 miles by 4 miles. I imagine that a city - *any* city - is much more liek 16 miles square. That's 16 miles by 16 miles, or 256 square miles - 64 times larger (and thus, 64 times more expensive to provide WiFi coverage).

Re:$16 / month? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145983)

Is Milwaukee really only 16 square miles? You guys must be packed in there like sardines!

Sod wireless internet access - move!

Wi-fi Vs Mesh (3, Interesting)

earthstar (748263) | about 9 years ago | (#12145636)

So still wifi is being provided in latest rollouts of wireless interent?

Whatever happened to the concept of Mesh Networks , that sprovide high speed higher security Internet that was seen as a bettet alternative to WiFI ?

Infact I read in SPECTRUM that it has already been implemented in Vegas.

Re:Wi-fi Vs Mesh (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145867)

Mesh networking has a slightly different goal in mind then provideing low cost to setup, and reaching as many people as possible.

What mesh networks try to acomplish is creating dynamic networks from moving parts. I don't know if you have ever went war driving and tried to IM with someon online while router hopping, but you will quickly find out that our current networks are designed for stationary devices.

I think you will start to see mesh networking taking off in about 3-6 years when more cars are outfitted with their own versions of vechicle to vechicle communication systems. (I read that some higher end automobile manufactures are doing this already).
The benefit of this would be the creation of "smart cars" that would be able to assit the driver with emergency decesions, or with simply route planning which takes into account traffic density, or planning based on accident reports, or assistance with avoiding those huge potholes in roads, or merging traffic to help assist emergency works............

Re:Wi-fi Vs Mesh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145939)

It's still around, however download speeds may be slower with a wireless connection.

http://www.imesh.com/ [imesh.com]

ha.

Re:Wi-fi Vs Mesh (1)

doombob (717921) | about 9 years ago | (#12145946)

Mesh networks still have to use an underlying technology such as WiFi to create the mesh. The company I work for is creating a mesh of Wifi nodes using Strix [strixsystems.com] units to manage the network. It's really easy to set up a new node, pull up the manager with the list of "rogue devices," and then incorporate the new node. When Wimax is available, the company says that they will provide equipment you can integrate with the existing nodes (kind of like stackable Linksys devices).

My economics is a little fuzzy but... (2, Insightful)

scovetta (632629) | about 9 years ago | (#12145662)

A city could charge as little as $16 a month and cover expenses.

Wouldn't that depend on the size of the city and how many people would actually want to pay $16/month?

Or did they mean, $16/month total, for everyone?</not-really-a-serious-question>

Re:My economics is a little fuzzy but... (1)

SmokeHalo (783772) | about 9 years ago | (#12145722)

Perhaps that's why they included the phrase as little as, thus implying the minimum bill amount.

Economics are good! (1)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12145953)

When you get a large group together, you can get services for pennies on the dollar.

This is no different to me than a university buying a HUGE satelite dish and buying cable programming directly from vendors. When I was in student government, we voted on what channels we wanted to buy. I remember cnn was something like $0.02 per person, sci-fi was a dime, we even got HBO for a dollar a person. All the others, TBS and MTV and USAnetwork were all under a dime each, some under a nickle. The whole budget of 25 channels came out to under $2 per person. My home cable bill is 50 times as much. Plus, at school we had free internet. This was all done by student fee's, which was much less than what anyone could buy from a company.

The ONLY complaint I had was the damn Pepsi vending machines. It was impossible to get a Diet Coke on campus. And a can cost a dollar.

It all depends on how good the oversight is. If the local town has sharp people governing, and they cut all the crap out and just provide the basic service at the lowest cost, everyone wins. If they start thinking "since cost is so low... we'll add in $0.50 per person and use it for some unrelated expense" then we are all fucked.

After that experiance, I lived in a condominium building. I tried to get the board to pass a resolution where we would all buy cable collectively and negotiate a price with the provider. I knew other apartment buildings worked out deals where the per unit cost was less than half the bill of someone buying directly. Unfortunatly, the old geezers on the board did not want cable, they were happy with CBS, NBC, and ABC over the airways.

We lose money but make up for it in volume! (1)

wsanders (114993) | about 9 years ago | (#12145977)

We lose money on every transaction but we make up for it in volume!

Worst case the Texas legisature is considering a handout to Texas Utilities (TXU) (*) to allow TXU to tax all ratepayers to subsidize Broadband Over Powerlines. So the idea of a WiFi tax showing up in your mailbox isn't all that farfetched.

(*) Link: http://powermarketers.netcontentinc.net/newsreader .asp?ppa=8knpp%5EZltmlupoXUnj%216%3C%22bfek%5C%21 [netcontentinc.net]

So... cheap phone service too? (4, Insightful)

popo (107611) | about 9 years ago | (#12145686)


It should also be noted that free wifi has an immediate upshot of mass conversion to VOIP.

Adding to that: Wifi handhelds are around the corner -- which means that cellphone (and landline) carriers have a lot to worry about.

Re:So... cheap phone service too? (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | about 9 years ago | (#12145812)

Let's hope. I wanna see Verizon cry themselves a little puddle, as people stop using their ancient services, and their monopoly power is extracted from their unwilling grip.

Cell and landline carriers SHOULD FEAR VOIP and other new tech. They should either toss their chips onto the table, or get the hell out of the game. I want my goddam flying cars, and I won't wait any longer, if I have to build 'em myself!

Dangerous precedent? (1)

Eyeball97 (816684) | about 9 years ago | (#12145730)

Perhaps I haven't thought this through... But doesn't this seem odd to anyone? Let me get this straight - the local authorities want to use tax dollars to cover an entire city with their "ISP". Meanwhile, the local ISPs and (presumably already) WISPs do what, exactly? Why would I want to pay an ISP for service, when my tax dollars are already subsidising the local authorities to provide the same service? Imho, if they want to provide Internet access, they should get out of politics and go find their own funding, and set up and honest to God ISP business - compete like everybody else has to. What's next? State-wide Internet? Country-wide?

Re:Dangerous precedent? (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | about 9 years ago | (#12145863)

Meanwhile, the local ISPs and (presumably already) WISPs do what, exactly?

They resell unshielded, untwisted copper pairs from Verizon, or whomever it is out west. This makes money for the last-mile telcos (twice -- once for the customer, and once for the ISP).

Cut out the middleman, and providing Internet service (like, through wireless equipment) becomes insanely cheap by comparison.

Re:Dangerous precedent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12146039)

Mod up.

Just because half of Slashdot readers work for ISPs doing tech support doesn't mean ISPs are the best thing for consumers.

Allow Cities? (2, Interesting)

Valiss (463641) | about 9 years ago | (#12145743)

...which would allow cities to provide wireless internet access.

This makes it sound like it is currently illegal to do this. Is it illegal in Colorado to have a city set up a wireless network?

Can somebody explain why cities do this? (3, Insightful)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 9 years ago | (#12145749)

Why are many cities so interested in providing free/cheap WiFi access? Telephones and cable TV have been around much longer and you don't see cities rushing to provide free land-line phones or cable TV.

I personally don't want any of my tax dollars used to fund any free/cheap technological service to anybody. Cities should just stick to funding the police, fire, water, and grounds maintenance, i.e., the traditional stuff cities are supposed to fund.

Re:Can somebody explain why cities do this? (1)

garcia (6573) | about 9 years ago | (#12145813)

Why are many cities so interested in providing free/cheap WiFi access? Telephones and cable TV have been around much longer and you don't see cities rushing to provide free land-line phones or cable TV.

Because it takes a lot more time, money, and manpower to dig holes, run cable, and string wires for line based services (CATV and telephone) than it does for wireless based services such as Internet.

Re:Can somebody explain why cities do this? (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 9 years ago | (#12145986)

But the phone/cable companies have already done the work. By your argument, the city should simply pay the phone/cable companies directly and give away phone/cable for "free."

Re:Can somebody explain why cities do this? (1)

CDarklock (869868) | about 9 years ago | (#12145914)

> Why are many cities so interested in
> providing free/cheap WiFi access?

I think it's more that voters and lobbyists of various stripes have some idea that the government needs to be MORE in their business than it already is.

I for one don't want all my internet traffic traveling across a single chokepoint owned by the government, no matter how local the government is. And I *trust* my government a lot more than most /. posters seem to.

> If you reply, do so only to what
> I explicitly wrote.

Somewhat off topic... does this work? I have that problem a lot. Is it really that easy to fix?

Re:Can somebody explain why cities do this? (3, Insightful)

brontus3927 (865730) | about 9 years ago | (#12146038)

How do you define what a city should and should not provide for its citizens? Things that have been around the longest? Things that aren't technologically based? Police, fire, water, etc use a good deal of technology to perform their services. Is it really wrong for a city to want to provide services for its citizenry? Isn't that the purpose of government in the first place?

Is it inherently fair or unfair for a city to subsidize the cost of trash collection? My family has payed a seperate service to pick up our trash for a decade while our taxes go towards subsidizing a service we don't use. What about telephone polls? My great grandparents had to pay to have telephone polls installed on their road leading up to their house. 10 miles worth. At ~20 polls per mile and a cost of $1 per pole, that came to an expensive $200. Private vs public schools are the same issue. Private trash companies and private schools exist even though there are free alternatives. The same will be with WiFi.

And why are so many cities interested in providing WiFi access and not telephone or cable? Because of demand. People are clamoring for internet access but there has never been a big movement for free cable/phone service.

Wardriving the Colonies (3, Funny)

werewolf1031 (869837) | about 9 years ago | (#12145756)

Car keys: Check.
Cigarette lighter adapter: Check.

Now, dammit, SOMEbody in this town has got to have that last episode of Battlestar Galactica...

A local story, from the mountains (1)

ianscot (591483) | about 9 years ago | (#12145761)

My family has a cabin that's up a private road on the southern slope of Twin Sisters mountain, just outside Rocky Mountain National Park in Roosevelt National Forest. Technically the address is in Allenspark, a while south of Estes Park on the Peak to Peak, though we're a long hike over the highway and up the mountain from town.

Our hillside association has had this WiFi thing come up a few times. Someone down in Allenspark proper has been encouraging the town to try to get some sort of WiFi arrangement going. A variety of plans have come up.

It's not flying very well with us, anyway. People from Denver who come to their cabins all the time do maybe want satellite TV and other amenities, but there's a pretty sizeable contingent of people on the hill who drive from far off -- Minnesota for us, Texas for some -- and who don't thrill at the idea of dragging the leash behind the car.

The issue as far as I can tell has never been whether the town had the right to provide the service, or contract for it with private companies. Nobody told us it was illegal; they're just using the town's size as a way of getting the negotiating leverage, or trying to. I believe at least one of the proposals intended to use public money to contract with someone, but that got voted down... Which is, you know, how democracy functions. So no problem.

www.chaska.net (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145776)

The city I live in is already establishing WiFi. The ISP involved made a deal with the local utilities and the city to use the municipal vehicals and stree/power poles already setup. In return, the city gets WiFi access for the police cars and some other benefits.
They are only charging $15.99 a month, and it can be included right in the utilities bill.
Speeds still leave a bit to be desired, as they didn't use one of the better technologies, but they are working on it. I've had speeds up to 900kbps on occasion, but average seems more like 3-400kbps.
Oh, I can also loggin with just my wireless connection on the laptop and not need their router too, so I can go to the local coffee shops that don't have WiFi available. :)

How long (1)

derainged chicken (872085) | about 9 years ago | (#12145801)

before cable and DSL providers start complaining about this. I can understand if the speed isn't going to be all that great, but why would someone pay $20-50 or cable/DSL when you can get decent wi-fi for $16? Also how do they plan on securing such an infrastructure? As we just read, the Feds cracked WEP in 3 min.

Fp niggA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12145834)

project somewhere Your spare time whether to repeat Fanatic known

All you people think this is great and all (2, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about 9 years ago | (#12145871)

But how many government programs have been a success? They will mess this up, you can bet the farm on it. Governments made this mess in the first place by signing exclusive deals with only one provider and providing them with a monopoly. now look at what they are doing.

this will end up a mess.

Free WiFi! Just let us chose what you see! (1, Interesting)

WoodstockJeff (568111) | about 9 years ago | (#12145878)

Let's see, SanFran wants to regulate web logs [slashdot.org], and people are cheering a law that lets cities to install government-controlled WiFi networks to drive the "greedy" private companies out of business....

Not to mention fact that the FBI can hack a wireless net in 3 minutes [slashdot.org], so they'd never need to get a wiretap order to watch what you do... (and neither would the RIAA/MPAA)

Yep, sounds like the sort of thing every Slashdot reader should champion!

Re:Free WiFi! Just let us chose what you see! (1)

chivo243 (808298) | about 9 years ago | (#12146060)

Get out of my mind! This is just what I was thinking when I read this post... More chances for gov't monitoring/control, hmm just what we need. No thanks, I will keep paying the best ISP in the Netherlands to keep the gov'ts hands off my internet activity, I'm glad I no longer live in America anymore when I hear of this kind of double talk. Great post!

SB 152 restricts municipal wifi you twit (2, Informative)

JKarp (749532) | about 9 years ago | (#12145920)

Zonk is clueless.

http://www.freepress.net/communityinternet/=CO [freepress.net]

SB 152 was a POS legislation from the get-go, and many of us Coloradoans have been actively lobbying against it. State senator Jennifer Viega threw this gem together to pay back the telcos that financed her campaign. While the revised bill passed is better than the original, it's still bad news for municipal services.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion/arti cle/0,1299,DRMN_38_3545616,00.html [rockymountainnews.com]

People don't run the government (1)

koan (80826) | about 9 years ago | (#12145991)

Corporations do, and they will smack any competition down like a one winged fly.

This has been happening in several states already.

All I can ask is where is the citizen outrage?

It's time for a revolution.

Quick math... (1)

The-Bus (138060) | about 9 years ago | (#12146052)

Using 1990 Census data [census.gov] I've put together a quick report [fantasticdamage.com] showing the monthly cost for wifi in over 350 metropolitan/population centers in the U.S. Note that I am assuming the $37,500/sqmi cost is constant and these figures rely on census data from fifteen years ago. Also, note the cost is per person, not per household.

According to the estimates and data above, Jersey City residents could have wifi for $0.26 a month. Over 60 cities can do it for less than $5 per month, including Philadelphia, which is aiming to convert part of the city into a wifi zone.

The following towns/areas can all do it for under $10m as a startup cost and for less than $10/m per resident. Note they are mostly concentrated in New England.
  1. Jersey City, NJ PMSA
  2. New Britain, CT PMSA
  3. Bridgeport-Milford, CT PMSA
  4. Stamford, CT PMSA
  5. Trenton, NJ PMSA
  6. Norwalk, CT PMSA
  7. Brockton, MA PMSA
  8. Lowell, MA-NH PMSA
  9. Salem-Gloucester, MA PMSA
  10. Bristol, CT PMSA
  11. Fall River, MA-RI PMSA
  12. Waterbury, CT MSA
  13. New Bedford, MA MSA
  14. Manchester, NH MSA
  15. Wilmington, NC MSA
  16. Fitchburg-Leominster, MA MSA
  17. Middletown, CT PMSA
  18. Lewiston-Auburn, ME MSA
  19. Pittsfield, MA MSA


I really hope this takes off. It's a great idea, and another way to boost local economies.

Sorry if this "report" is a bit limited, I just used data available while I had some free time. Don't base your business model on this. Or, if you do, and it's succesful, I want a cut.

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