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Chicago Cancels Municipal Wi-Fi Plan

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the wave-goodbye-to-the-broadbands dept.

Wireless Networking 93

thatshortkid writes "The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a proposed plan for municipal wi-fi in Chicago has fallen apart. The story cites contract disputes and the falling price of residential broadband as reasons for the talks collapsing. 'Chicago officials had intended that the city would offer infrastructure, but no cash, to a carrier that would use its own funds to build the network here. EarthLink and AT&T Inc. submitted proposals to the city, but after months of negotiations the parties were unable to reach agreement. The companies sought a commitment from Chicago to be an "anchor tenant," agreeing to pay to use the Wi-Fi network to support city services, but the city declined ... Even if Chicago declines to back a municipal wireless network, city residents soon will gain more Internet connection options. Sprint Nextel Corp. is building a wireless WiMax network here that is due to offer service next spring.'"

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It's Like Water (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398003)

So I'm going to try & compare this to water to citizens, but I recognize it's not the greatest comparison--people need water to survive, most people don't need wi-fi to survive, etc.

Back in the day, when a town was being settled, they would have a well. I think it still works this way in most rural parts of third world countries. You thirsty? Walk down to the well & pull up a bucket.

What did you pay for that facility? Probably very little--if anything at all. Someone fronted the stone and labor to drill the well the whole bucket rope system was a one time cost.

Years later, people got sick of this ... why? The water wasn't the greatest quality, you had to actively go to the well, it might be limited during dry spells, someone devious could poison the water, etc. So we now pay the city to ensure that water is delivered us via a system of tubes and that it is potable.

The attempt for AT&T or Earthlink to blanket wi-fi is kind of like the last step in this equation. Except there currently are no town wells (with the exception of some establishments implementing free wi-fi). I think we need a 'town well' style implementation before we advance to full blown municipal need. There's plenty of people out there right now getting by just fine with no wi-fi, they don't know why they should pay $2.87 a month (that's just a guess, by the way) in taxes for something they don't think they need. Likewise, there were probably settlers drinking from streams that didn't think an intricate pipeline of water to every home was necessary.

So what's the solution here?

Enter mesh networks [wikipedia.org] , something similar to how the OLPC is supposed to function. I submitted a story a while ago about Meraki [slashdot.org] , a startup that is threatening Google's push to blanket San Francisco in wi-fi. They are basically giving out solar powered routers for people to mount in their homes that will become part of a mesh network.

It's kind of like the town well approach: low start up initial cost that someone pays, at first it will be limited and a bit cumbersome, it will probably be very vulnerable to attacks, the people that don't think they need it will still get some low quality service for free, etc.

Will city wide mesh networks be the final answer & solution to the municipal wi-fi demand? I don't know. I would doubt it since I wouldn't see it working in the countryside very well and so I think the ultimate municipal wi-fi will indeed be local government run and include massive coverage via some sort of technology I don't know enough about.

I think it's necessary to have this intermediate stage because it will give businesses, people & institutions the power to experiment with the unlimited possibilities that a city WAN would provide. I think wi-fi as a municipal service is a great idea for everywhere but I acknowledge that I make a lot more than the average citizen of the world.

If I were Chicago or a large city government, I would be seeking the attempts of companies like Meraki that want to build mesh networks and look at ad hoc networks as a temporary or starting solution. They may not be the best but it something to experiment with and learn from before you implement the final solution.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398131)

Best analogy ever.

... is delivered us via a system of tubes ...

Ted Stevens would be proud :)

Re:It's Like Water (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398265)

No it isn't
I just don't see the need for WiFi EVERYWHERE. If you want to compare it to water then fine. Are there public water fountains on every block? No. Is there a public water fountain even at every park? Probably not. Why have a city wide WiFi system? Hot Spots will get you 99% of the benefit for 1% of the cost. There was a Network admin for a college here on slashdot talking about this. His school was demanding that the entire campus have WiFi coverage. For the life of him he couldn't figure out why WiFi coverage out by the trash dumpsters was important. Why not just have it in the class rooms, Dorms, Student Unions, Library, and the Quad?
Add in Sprint bringing WiMax and yea it just doesn't seem like a good idea.

I could see WiFi and WiFi Mesh networks as a great solution in rural areas of the Midwest. Lots of silos and grain elevators and very few hills. But City Wide WiFi nteworks? Why?

Re:It's Like Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20398475)

If you want to compare it to water then fine. Are there public water fountains on every block? No. Is there a public water fountain even at every park? Probably not.
Are you at all aware how the water gets into your home?

Re:It's Like Water (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20403195)

I'm pretty sure it's through a series of tubes.

Re:It's Like Water (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20398723)

Jesus Fucking Christ, Morons should eat the Angel Macaroni!

Yes it the hell is! (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399421)

But City Wide WiFi nteworks? Why?

Hi. The Internet needs to be everywhere, and accessible in every and any way. WiFi is a very low cost solution for spreading the Internet around. Because the Internet has things like Wikipedia, and Make, and blogs, and maps, and train/bus schedules, and VOIP -- there is a need for the Internet to be ubiquitous. WiFi is a stone-knives-and-bearskins method of making the Internet available everywhere.

Why do you need WiFi near the dumpsters? That's where your systems administrators smoke cigarettes. Why does a City need WiFi? At the bear minimum, that should lessen the ammount paid to Verizon/GTE/SBC/etc every month. Municipal WiFi everywhere should directly equal less taxes -- except that it is against the law, at least here in Pennsyltuckey.

Re:It's Like Water (2, Insightful)

Fx.Dr (915071) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399469)

Say what you will, but when USI Wireless opened up the Minneapolis Municipal Wi-Fi for emergency service after the 35W bridge collapse, it was an absolute godsend. Especially in my neighborhood, which is currently in the middle of a territory dispute, and the only provider (Covad) charges $100/mo (seriously) for a 1.5/Mbps line - well beyond the reach of what are, by-and-large, poor & infirmed residents living off Social Security.

Perhaps you're thinking too narrowly about net use. It's not strictly about "candid photography" (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) or submitting job applications. The additional city-wide access to all the major online news outlets, email and such in times of disaster is worth its weight in gold.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399593)

I am not saying that city wide networks are bad at all. Or that WiFi is bad. I am saying you don't need to blanket the entire city all the time with wifi.
I am all for city and towns putting in their own fiber networks if the commercial vendors are not stepping up to the plate. I am also for ending CATV monopolies.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

skarphace (812333) | more than 7 years ago | (#20404493)

Haven't you ever been walking down the street, or in a park, and have an argument with a friend that only wikipedia could answer?

"Did you know that before mating bald eagles will fly really high, lock their talons and free fall to the ground?"

"Bullshit"

"Look at this [wikipedia.org] ."

Now if only I could really link words in my speech.

Re:It's Like Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20399521)

Why?

You're not in the administration business, are you?

Re:It's Like Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20402057)

For the life of him he couldn't figure out why WiFi coverage out by the trash dumpsters was important.

So sensors in the dumpster can notify the Garbage Collection that it's full and let them optimize their routes to save gas, time and money.

The point is if you build the infrastructure people will find ways to use it.

Re:It's Like Water (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#20402241)

"So sensors in the dumpster can notify the Garbage Collection that it's full and let them optimize their routes to save gas, time and money.

The point is if you build the infrastructure people will find ways to use it. "

So you will have to spent the money and energy to build and run those sensor. I have a better idea. Just use a big dumpster and pick it up once a week as part of a route so that you don't waste fuel making a special trip!
Simple is better.

Re:It's Like Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20404153)

My point was that ubicuous internet opens up possibilities for development that we don't necessarily see today.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 7 years ago | (#20405733)

You have no vision.  None.

Go read some science fiction, which you obviously have not, and you'll have a much better idea of the vast potential truly "universal" access will have.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416431)

"Go read some science fiction, which you obviously have not, and you'll have a much better idea of the vast potential truly "universal" access will have."

Science Fiction is fiction. I still don't have my flying car.

What everybody forgets is someone has to pay for it. WiMax mobile will hopefully solve the need for mobile access for a much lower cost and fiber is a better solution for fixed locations.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#20418229)

Yes, because flying cars haven't happened, it's not a valid point.  In fact, very much science fiction has happened (the internet comes to mind), and very much more will as well.  The point is, you can find ideas there, for something to do with this thing, which you clearly lack the imagination to conceive.

Just trying to help brother out.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#20425959)

You really are putting the cart before the horse. I have probably read more science fiction the the average person. I am a big fan of Clarke, Asimov, Bear, Niven, and goodness knows who else. But when you are talking about the cost of putting in an 802.11b/g/n/ network vs the benefits today you can see use real science. Even WiMax is a bit of a waste. All wireless network connections are going to very limited compared to a fiber optic connection. Wireless is good for the last ten meter problem not the last mile problem except in very specific instances. WiMax for is good for about 2 kms at 10MPS but that 10 mps is shared by everyone in that 2 km radius.
Science Fiction is a great way to think about new ideas and is frankly a lot of fun. But we didn't fly to the moon in a big cannon shell. I suggest that you start adding in a lot of real science to your reading list.

It could be that being connected 24/7 is not a good idea. Frankenstein was written because Mary Shelly was bored on a vacation. Einstein came up with the theory of Relativity while riding a bike a day dreaming about riding on a light beam. Today they might have been too busy reading Slashdot.

It's nothing like water. (2, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398273)

You say that "most people don't need wi-fi to survive". Actually, I'd say that nobody needs wi-fi to survive. In fact, wi-fi is really useless for anything important. There's simply no reason that our government should get into the business of becoming ISP's.

Re:It's nothing like water. (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398431)

There's simply no reason that our government should get into the business of becoming ISP's.
Unless they want a first-chance lookie-look at your traffic. Just shout "terrorism" and millions will be devoted to setting it up and very few of those who fit the bill will care.

Internet traffic via cell and private hot spots are fine... snooping and raising taxes are the only motivators I can think of for a city-wide WiFi.

Re:It's nothing like water. (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399167)

I would love for the government to get into the last mile (or wi-fi in this case). This way, we get the lines put in for about the same price and could potentially have competition for the service over those lines. Without a local governing body managing the last mile, we will forever be stuck with what we have now which is a monopoly with mediocre service. In the US, we basically have a government run last mile now but by convention, that same government chooses one company to run it AND provide the service. In this specific case in CHI though, the government is still choosing a single carrier which does not make sense because the initial investment of the wires and poles and property taking via right of way is almost non existent, only equipment and design. Seems like anyone with bandwidth would be a suitable candidate, it does not have to be "phone company".

Re:It's nothing like water. (1)

skarphace (812333) | more than 7 years ago | (#20404669)

There's simply no reason that our government should get into the business of becoming ISP's.
I don't think about it as them becomming ISPs. I think it would, in fact, be a much better way of solving the issues that brought monopoly agreements into place and allow much more competition.

Let's say municipal or county government laid and owned the infrastructure(just the layer 1 part of the network). You would allow for the prevention of insane ammounts of cables running down your streets on poles. That (to my knowledge) was the primary reason they started granting monopolies. Imagine if 50 companies all ran sets of cables down power poles.

Then the governmental body would lease out usage of this infrastructure to any company that wanted part. Then you could theoretically have 1 set of fiber running down the pole and split off to each home(or wireless in this case). So your neighborhood would look pretty and it would bring in much more competition without any more of those monopoly agreements.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398461)

It's a good analogy, but seems to be lacking in common sense to a degree. How many people actually need wi-fi? I'd wager damned near close to nobody. It's a luxury, a convenience that helps some people, but is not really a necessity. The purpose of cities is to focus on providing necessities -- trash removal, water, roads, polic, schools, etc. If there's a large enough tax base, then cities can also supply some 'wanna-have' items -- like parks, ice skating rinks, swimming pools, etc. But these aren't necessities and can be shut down if the tax base slips too much, or if providing the necessities (the 'gotta-haves') begins to become more costly.

Wi-fi is in the wanna-have category, not the gotta-have category. If enough people want it, and they're willing to pay for it, then cities can provide it. But, in my mind at least, wi-fi is best left to the private providers, who can make money from in any way the see fit because those who want it will pay for it, those who don't, won't have to.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

indiejade (850391) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400095)

How many people actually need wi-fi? I'd wager damned near close to nobody. It's a luxury, a convenience that helps some people, but is not really a necessity. The purpose of cities is to focus on providing necessities -- trash removal, water, roads, polic, schools, etc.

Perhaps no specific person needs wi-fi, but it seems as though it is one of those things that, when provided on a large scale, lowers the cost of the service for everybody: both public-works people and private citizens. How? Economies of scale built into the overall infrastructure. Not to mention efficiency.

Regarding some of the "necessities" mentioned -- police and roads: maintenance of, hazards on, congestion of, accidents, etc. are all things that citizens "pay" for in tax dollars. Quick notification and response time is good (efficient) for everybody on the roads, emergency response, etc. Regarding schools: books and supplies are always one of the things that teachers are worried about funding, not to mention one of the things that a significant amount of tax goes toward paying. A blanket wi-fi, that just happened to include a school or two, could certainly contribute toward lowering costs incurred by those schools.

Given the big picture, what it boils down to is *logical* cost-benefit analysis. There's already a lot of redundancy into the tax laws of the US regarding just how much we pay and for what in taxes and excise taxes and 911 services and such. Private providers are just going to charge people taxes that the government would anyway. Why make the argument that people should pay more?

It really is like water: running your sprinklers all night after it has rained all day.

It's Chicago. What do you expect? (1)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399241)

It's Chicago. What do you expect? Don't get hung up on all the details. It all comes down to greed and payoffs. Big Chicago he-man payoffs.

    At least with a wi-fi public rip-off project no civilians are going to end up getting killed, like what happened with the big Mafia payoff 'Big Dig' project in Boston, or the 'look the other way, shut up, and be happy' corruption of the Minneapolis. And wi-fi isn't going to be an ultra-high-tech masturbatory death machine for greedy military psychopaths like most American military weapons contracts. Our wi-fi fuck-ups aren't going to make the rest of the world hate us for the next hundred years.

    There is another issue that makes the inability to arbitrate the pay-off structure a positive thing. That is the fact that public wi-fi is technically simply not ready for prime time yet. The systems don't work or just barely work.

    Here in Portland, Oregon, where the graft gets allocated more smoothly that other third-world American colonies, the local new wi-fi simply doesn't work reliably with Windows. Which is the OS used by 90% of the people who would be using the metro wi-fi. No one notices because the execs and 'first users' all use Macs and all the tech support people use Linux. Both these work OK with the local wi-fi. But they give the impression that the system is actually functioning as it should. But it's not and the execs and the techs don't get feedback from the masses of would-be users on the massive problems. So a long period of several years will go by before anyone realizes the extent of the underutilization, if they ever notice it at all.

    This creates a massive opportunity cost for the metro wi-fi system. If they had waited for five years then they would have become aware of the Windows problem from the examples of other cities. Now the other cities that aren't installing wi-fi will be able to avoid Portland's mistakes, and we get stuck with a total turkey wi-fi system.

    So yes, waiting, not installing, and delaying implementation of any public wi-fi is probably the best course of action until the huge numbers of bugs in these systems get addressed (and solved). Preferably with other people picking up the expense.

Re:It's Chicago. What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20399291)

... or the 'look the other way, shut up, and be happy' corruption of the Minneapolis.
Are you trying to say that 'the Minneapolis,' the very city itself, is some sort of huge scheme of corruption and graft?

Re:It's Chicago. What do you expect? (1)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399561)

No I mean 'Minneapolis' and especially the section of the public works department that allocates the funds to build the bridges. There is no excuse for the bridge falling into the river except for substandard construction and pay-offs. This is an example of a failure of the local Minnesota "sistema del potere", what Sicilians call the The system of power, which must always remain hidden if it is going to continue to be effective in places like Minneapolis and Portland where it is not supposed to exist.

Re:It's Chicago. What do you expect? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400663)

Just because something collapsed doesn't mean it was built shoddily by the Mafia because of corruption in the local government. The Minneapolis bridge was 40 years old, and all indications are that it was built using the best practices, designs, and materials available at that time. If anything, it was the ongoing inspections that didn't take into account the load the bridge was actually being subjected to (likely much higher than it was originally designed for) in their calculations of what needed to be replaced, rather than the way the bridge was built to begin with, that are more at fault here. It's difficult to blame the builders or engineers if they were using the best techniques and materials available to them at the time of construction.

Maybe they'll find some evidence later that the thing was made out of mostly gingerbread and popsicle sticks, but I haven't seen anything to suggest that so far. Do you have evidence that you'd like to share with us regarding that bridge? Or were you just here to spread conspiracy theories?

The Big Dig thing was much more clearly an instance of shoddy work, since it fell right after it was constructed, not 40 years down the line.

Re:It's Chicago. What do you expect? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 7 years ago | (#20402149)

Mod parent up. The bridge collapse had nothing to do with poor construction and everything to do with more usage than it was designed for, and lack of funding for replacement. The news was all over the fact that the bridge had been declared substandard. So what? I'll bet you money more than half the bridges in America are listed as such. I know at least 60% of the ones here in Oklahoma are. But that by no means is an indicator that they are about to fall over. The allocation of monies for bridge repair/replacement across our country is woefully less than it would need to be for bridge evaluators to be happy, but the likelihood of unfortunate accidents even on a substandard bridge is still pretty low.

Re:It's Chicago. What do you expect? (1)

timster (32400) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400577)

I must say, I'm intrigued by your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Honestly, this stuff is great.

By the way, my experience is that wi-fi doesn't work well under Windows generally. For once I don't think this is Microsoft's fault, exactly, as the problem seemed to be mostly awful drivers with labyrinthine custom configuration programs.

Re:It's Like Water (1)

davetufts (75317) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399351)

Back in the day, when a town was being settled, they would have a well. I think it still works this way in most rural parts of third world countries. You thirsty? Walk down to the well & pull up a bucket.

I don't think you understand how water works.

I live in a small town in Southern Maine. 5 minutes from Portsmouth, NH; 45 minutes from Boston or Portland, Maine. I don't consider my town a rural part of the third world, but my water supply works like you've stated. (with the exception that modern wells are not framed in stone, nor powered by a bucket and pully.)

My town doesn't give me free Wi-Fi, nor does it offer (free or for-pay) water. If you move to my town, you hire a Water Well company who finds an underground aquifer on your land and installs a 60' - 200' well, pump, and filter system.

I don't pay for water. I do pay for Internet access.

In places like SF, where there's free Wi-Fi, it's the opposite. Homeowners pay for water, but not Internet.

Re:It's Like Water (2, Informative)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399591)

Municipal WiFi is a stupid idea. It's completely impossible to get the kind of blanket fast, reliable coverage people should be able to expect from their Internet connection. WiFi's range is just too short and buildings attenuate the signal. You'd have to put a router every 50 feet over the entire city, including inside private property! Furthermore, mesh networking sucks; always has and always will. It multiplies the packet loss and latency and divides the bandwidth for each hop you go through.

Municipal WiMax, on the other hand, makes tons of sense. I love the idea of a public utility wireless broadband service to provide some competition for lazy telecoms; WiFi just isn't the way to do it. WiMax all the way. Use things for their intended purpose; that's my motto.

Falling Prices? (4, Insightful)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398037)

Comcast hasn't dropped my broadband price a single time (they have raised it, however). That said, has anyone actually figured out exactly *how* to get the $10 DSL that was the FCC requirement of the BellSouth Merger [techdirt.com] ?

With every day, I become more disgusted with the corporate greed stranglehold. Even more so, I amazed that consumers largely don't care.

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398125)

With every day, I become more disgusted with the corporate greed stranglehold. Even more so, I amazed that consumers largely don't care.

If they don't care that their President allowed the secret and warrant-less tapping of their private communications, they certainly aren't going to care about rising broadband costs or the secret bandwidth limits that Comcast enforces.

Re:Falling Prices? (3, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398303)

Even more so, I amazed that consumers largely don't care.

Well, you are saying that your prices have not dropped, yet you still use it. Congratulations on being one of those consumers who while maybe care, still continue to pay for a service you're not happy with. That's the way to stick it to the "greedy corporations!". Keep paying them for a service you're not happy with. I'm sure that they take extra time to read your angry letters to them... right after they get finished cashing your check every month.

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398477)

Well, you are saying that your prices have not dropped, yet you still use it. Congratulations on being one of those consumers who while maybe care, still continue to pay for a service you're not happy with.

That's quite the red herring.

My entire point was that I would switch from Comcast to AT&T's $10 DSL (including subscription to a land line for which I have no need) ***if I could actually buy it***.

The corporate greed comment was directed at the fact that the muni-wifi network was shot down by pressure from corporate interests (not that Comcast is charging me too much for my connection).

Re:Falling Prices? (2, Insightful)

Pilferer (311795) | more than 7 years ago | (#20401041)

..still continue to pay for a service you're not happy with.

You make it sound like we've got options! Where I live in Chicago, I can go with Comcast for $65/month (after taxes), or get slightly-better-than-ISDN speeds with AT&T, for $40-something. If I want high-speed internet, I'm stuck with Comcast! You can't "vote with your dollar" when one company has a monopoly!

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398617)

That said, has anyone actually figured out exactly *how* to get the $10 DSL...

Have you called them and asked? What was their response?

Re:Falling Prices? (2, Interesting)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398759)

Have you called them and asked? What was their response?

I'm not a current customer (because I have no need for a land-line) so this complicates things a bit (needlessly) as I only get to speak with their sales department, who haven't been informed of any $10 DSL plans (huge surprise, since you can't even find it on their website).

My goal is to use the land line as a free gateway to my area code for one of the distributed/free VoIP projects.

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

KirkH (148427) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400299)

The $10 DSL deal is only available online, so their phone reps aren't going to know about it. Yes, it's hidden and tough to find, but it is here: http://www.bellsouth.com/consumer/inetsrvcs/inetsr vcs_agreement_plans_pop.html [bellsouth.com]

It includes some 'gotchas' like a 12-month commitment and the $10 price is only good until 2009.

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

svallarian (43156) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400381)

also ... it's not available for current customers. Requires Land line service.

Since i'm now off their promo period for "lite" service, I'm getting hit to the tune of 24.95/month for 768/128.

Re:Falling Prices? (2, Informative)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399437)

With every day, I become more disgusted with the corporate greed stranglehold.

So, what do you propose instead? That YOU get to mandate what services are provided, and that we are all charged taxes (pushed through a notoriously inefficient beaurocracy) to support those services - which, in turn, are built and provided by private sector contractors and infrastructure companies ANYWAY... but which now everyone is forced to pay for, whether they want it or not? Your urge to make us all participate in funding what you want is the actually "greedy" perspective, here. You want it, and you want ME to pay for it.

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400131)

So, what do you propose instead?

Oakland County Wireless [oakgov.com]

This is the largest muni-wireless project in the world (910 square miles). It costs the taxpayers *nothing* to have free wireless internet access. It does not prevent people from having cable internet or DSL at home. It only adds an option at zero cost.

I live in Oakland County and this is for real - I can get basic internet connectivity at no charge (128kbps symmetric) or pay extra for faster speeds.

Next question please.

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400411)

It costs the taxpayers *nothing* to have free wireless internet access ... at no charge (128kbps symmetric) or pay extra for faster speeds

To stick with the municiple water supply analogy, that's like saying you can get free water, as long as you don't mind taking a shower, watering your lawn, doing your laundry, and everything else based on what you can get through a drinking straw. Real-life, participate-in-the-economy, good-enough-to-telecommute service (what most people would call "real" access) IS NOT FREE. Further, the stuff you DO get for "free" is NOT free! It's being subsidized by the people who are paying for higher, actually useful speeds. There never has been, is no, and won't ever be free lunch. Or bandwidth. Someone has to physically tend to the infrastructure, pay for the electrcity it burns, administer the peering connections to the outside world, and so on. If you're content with the lower-grade 128k throughput, then you're also content to let someone ELSE pay for your very-much-NOT-free internet access. Calling lunch "free" when someone else buys it for you is pretty disengenuous. Doesn't mean it's a bad decision to use it, but let's at least be honest, here.

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400989)

Sorry - I meant "at no additional cost" to the taxpayers.

Read the website - it outlines this very subject.

Basically, they simply opened some existing county property to a wireless provider under the following requirements:

      1) free 128k/128k wifi access must be provided to residents
      2) pay-for access can be offered in order to subsidize the free access

Other than the project management costs, the county has not paid for any infrastructure. They simply opened county property for the provider.

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#20401139)

From the website:

Does Oakland County plan on owning and operating the wireless network?

NO, Oakland County will not own or operate the wireless network. Instead, Oakland County will create a public/private partnership(s) by providing private businesses access to the assets in which Oakland County taxpayers have already funded. In exchange, the partner(s) will be required to provide free wireless internet access to residents, businesses and visitors within Oakland County. In addition, private sector partners will sell additional services above and beyond those free services. All profits from the wireless network will be realized by the private sector partners. Additionally, no tax or grant dollars will be used to subsidize the creation of the wireless network. The cost of the build-out will be completely funded by the private sector.


I apologize for my usage of the term "free" (I'm actually quite upset about it being used so freely myself). This was a mistake.

As for your use of the term "useful", I think that you need to reevaluate the impact of 128kbps available over 910 square miles. Being able to open up a notebook in the middle of the park and prove that a tomato is a fruit by botanical definition and a vegetable by US import definition is useful to me.

Oh, and VoIP works quite well on 128kbps, too.

YMMV

Re:Falling Prices? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#20401429)

As for your use of the term "useful", I think that you need to reevaluate the impact of 128kbps available over 910 square miles. Being able to open up a notebook in the middle of the park and prove that a tomato is a fruit by botanical definition and a vegetable by US import definition is useful to me.

Don't get me wrong! I can and do get a LOT of work done over that much bandwidth (you can certainly run a perfectly good terminal server session that way). I just want to be clear that such a service (at the subsidized bandwidth) wouldn't really cut it for a lot of people. Certainly not for the entertainment + business type use that's becoming so common. Half a dozen people streaming video next to you could pretty well kill it. I think it's just important to set expectations about the overall utility of that sort of bandwidth, and even more important to keep in mind that someone's ALWAYS footing the bill (and might choose to STOP doing so).

I, by the way, also resolve numerous socially weighty arguments by Googling in the wild. Usually on my phone. But I do get your point!

Cause and effect (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400607)

With every day, I become more disgusted with the corporate greed stranglehold. Even more so, I amazed that consumers largely don't care.
There you go. Cause and effect, all in two sentences.

 

For the best. (4, Funny)

Patrick Cosmos (1148183) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398061)

Chicago has a systematic inability to manage anything under its control, from the transit system to the hospitals. Everything is out of money and the whole state just devolves into an endlessly looping state diagram of FIGHT --> SHAM RESOLUTION --> FIGHT.

If Chicago managed a WiFi infrastructure, it would manage to cost the taxpayers $400B and give everybody cancer within a week or two, and even then the aldermen would find a way to stick up for it so long as Daley approved.

Re:For the best. (1)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398307)

Sadly I cannot disagree. Ordinarily I'd blame Tom Cruise or some other Scientologist clown, but really, this time I have to put blame where it belongs - on Chi-town's corrupt, mobbed up Mayor. Dick (I know it's Richard) Daley for the loss.

Re:For the best. (2, Funny)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 7 years ago | (#20402237)

Right on. Someone should raid his mansion in the middle of the night with a backhoe and carve out huge Xs in his driveway.

Re:For the best. (1)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398693)

Seriously - try living somewhere else. I work in Baltimore after living in Chicago for 20+ years and I would kill to have Chicago's level of inefficiency and ineptness compared to the crack-tards running this city.

As a resident... (1)

PlusFiveInsightful (1148175) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398179)

I live in Chicago and regret to hear this. Comcast, Chicago's largest broadband provider, pillages its customers and I'd love to see some competition!

You do have competition. (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400529)

It's not municipal wi-fi, but then that's not really what you're complaining about.

I live in Chicago and don't use Comcast. I use Speakeasy myself - not the cheapest, but I've been very satisfied with them. Two others that come to mind off the bat are AT&T and DSLExtreme, both of which offer really pretty low pricing in comparison to Comcast.

Re:You do have competition. (1)

twiggy (104320) | more than 7 years ago | (#20404625)

Define "pretty low pricing in comparison to comcast"..

By the time I'm done paying for my phone line I'll never use (I'm mobile only), AT&T gives me either REALLY slow speeds compared to comcast for not that much cheaper, or just about the same price for faster, but still slower than comcast-speed DSL.

Oh, that and everything I do that goes through AT&T is shipped to the NSA. Maybe it is with Comcast too.. but at least we don't know for sure... yet... like we do for AT&T.

Re:As a resident... (1)

putzin (99318) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400569)

I'm a local resident too (go Cubbies) and even with competition, I'm paying out the nose for RCN 5MB/384K service. Seriously, 5 down, and 384 up? Whose bright idea was that? Try to find the 384 part on the webpage, I dare you. I think DSL is still better than cable, if not for the price.

However, Sprint is going to be rolling out their WiMAX service soon, very soon. I don't know what it will cost, probably on the same level as Comcast/AT&T, but the benefits will be pretty big, especially before everyone gets on board (IF anyone gets on board). The ability to take your network connection with you will be huge, and the speed will be comparable to other broadband options (again, I know nothing of the price, I'm just building the equipment). The mobility aspect, and the idea that you can then use it as a phone option via VOIP equipment is huge in my mind, and something I hope that a lot of people recognize. Maybe not. I'm mostly hoping, because I want more companies to buy our equipment so my seriously sagging stock price rebounds a bit.

Consumer *have* to vote with their wallets, and they are, because they are mostly ill-informed about alternatives and the drawbacks to what they are being asked to pay for.

Public Works (1, Insightful)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398215)

I can't see how a public works effort such as this would work because I'm looking at it from the admin/engineer side of things. So here we have Chicago creating a network that will be funded how. Firstly officials there wanted freebies, they didn't even offer a bone. So having worked at a provider, I can say the provider's first mode of thinking was "Why should I". Think about it, the city charging $20 the provider gets what? Why would the provider dish out all that cash when all it takes is a cluster of people to open WAP's all over the place to let their neighbors surf for free. Sure people do it now, but there is no city official dipping into a providers pockets right now.

Provider --> resells to City @ say 10.00 per person/etc (who cares) City --> sells to citizens @ say 20.00

City now also has to hire network engineers, admins, tech support etc. Higher taxes.

Provider --> resells to City @ say 10.00 per person/etc (who cares) City --> sells to citizens @ say 20.00 Citizens --> Opens WAP's citywide leading city to lose revenue

Re:Public Works (1)

Lysol (11150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398645)

Good points, but why is it $10/person? When you consider economies of scale the price goes down the more people are involved. Of course, the more people the more bandwidth, but that's besides the point.

Sure this stuff costs money, but if I'm paying $70/mo for a 6/768 dsl line (yah, not the most ideal price), then for a million people why should it cost $20mil? I mean, we could get roughly 285k dsl lines for $20mil at my price. That doesn't make sense. Most of it, and I'm sure you'd agree, would go into WAPs.

I dunno, like I said in another post, these things are all over-engineered, just like most Java projects. ;) Start limited, start small, grow out. See what works, what doesn't. The telcos/providers need to be cut outta this equation. They'll never feel like they're getting a good deal short of anything that is a total rip-off to the tax base. Screw those guys. Just use whoever the city already uses as a provider (which might already include discounts, etc) and then just start plugging in the WAPs.

It doesn't have to be too complicated and there's always money to be found somewhere. Maybe it's not in new taxes, maybe some other way no one else has thought much about. But I feel whenever you first involve the corporate interest then it's a recipe for getting 100% screwed. Not saying the govt is the most efficient either, but they just don't seem to be as money hungry as the corporate execs are.

Internet should be right up there with power, water, transportation, etc. It's already a given that it's a key component of growth and future development. We need to start treating it more like that instead of a big giveaway to the monopolies that we're broken up in the 80's (at&t). So much for deregulation.

Re:Public Works (2, Informative)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399085)

You state: Internet should be right up there with power, water, transportation, etc. It's already a given that it's a key component of growth and future development. Incorrect. The world works fine without the Internet. We were working fine in the 70's and 80's. We just work more faster and have become more productive with it. However most would say we've hit our plateau with the Internet. As for your comment on: "We need to start treating it more like that instead of a big giveaway to the monopolies that we're broken up in the 80's (at&t). So much for deregulation." There is little in terms of monopolization as many paint out on the Internet. From my POV I see little(r) companies complaining about bigger companies charging less and forcing them out but what about the complaints that hey, those bigger companies spent their own monies laying out the infrastructure. Not only did they lay out the infrastructure, some actually DO share it for the little guys. Its never enough though. If its that big an issue, some of those little guys should take out loans and build their own lines so they won't have to worry about being bullied. Bottom line.

Re:Public Works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20401587)

I am an MPA...

Major cities have a strong interest and argument for the private sector ponying up the cost of free wi-fi.

1) Cities must manage the right (either directly or through bidding) to put power stations, antennas, pipes, cable, payphones, etc -- they do this for health and safety, because they are the major customer, and also because cities have property for water/electric utilities which can provide a limited number of slots for antennas/equipment.

2) The infrastructure deployment and maintenance costs of wireless (no digging required) make it much cheaper for the city and less invasive than cable/phones in the long run (broken pipes, streets torn up, traffic stopped). Digging up shit to replace, upgrade, maintain infrastructure is a hassle with serious costs to the city itself and to the local economy.

3) Access and advertising. There is a reason why google is paying people to get information about local shops--targeted advertising at the local level is worth a great deal of money. After all, google itself is simply and ad and search company. The potential profits for direct advertising are staggering and may be worth the risk to provide services for free to the lower class while also allowing access to middle and upper-middle class city dwellers.

yeah... (2, Funny)

intthis (525681) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398217)

i guess it was safe to assume that the wi-fi system wouldn't work... mainly because they had been putting up signs saying it was coming for the last year...

in a similar vein, i believe they've been putting up signs for the last 2 years proclaiming that we have, in fact, won the 2016 olympics... which clearly isn't going to happen either...

i guess the moral is, don't trust signs in chicago... i mean everyone has already learned to ignore the traffic ones... how hard could it be?

This is GREAT news (4, Insightful)

joshv (13017) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398249)

If this had gone forward we would have spent something like $100 million, the work going in no-bid contract to Friends Of Daley, and ended up with a few "hot zones" in inconvenient parts of the city, with coverage conspicuously absent from any area covered by a commercial provider.

Re:This is GREAT news (1)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398373)

Aww, you say that like Daley's on the take or something. There's plenty of evidence to support that he's not dirty. *pockets a $5,000 check signed by the Friends of Daley*

Chicago politics fail again? I'm shocked! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20398417)

Next election I'm using all my votes to throw the current officials out.

Re:Chicago politics fail again? I'm shocked! (1)

putzin (99318) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400609)

Be careful, Daley's illiterate croney grunts have literate croney grunts working for them now (the machine is learning). They can probably read this, and being very liberal, just may.

What cities really need to do (1)

Lysol (11150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398449)

Big telcos/cable companies have shown over the past decade that they're not interested in anything that benefits the customer nor anything that progresses technology. Hence we have multiple examples from other countries where they have 100mb net access or statements from AT&T's CEO where he said "no one want's $10 internet access". They are only interested in maintaining the status quo. The dream of supply siders that the market will decide has definitely died on this one because the market is stagnant, highly profitable for the monopolies, and essentially dead.

I live in San Francisco and it's a little disheartening to see the wifi thing going nowhere. I would say it's more typical of the corporate mindset nowadays in that they want to not just own everything or every angle, but they want to control it forever. The fact that SF can't get its shit together with Google and Earthlink is beyond me - this has been going on for a long time!

I feel the only difference with SF and Chicago on this on is Chicago knew when to call bullshit. Is it too difficult to create some new office of the city for digital initiatives or something and then just have them do it? I mean, start small, start in an area where there's a lot of tourists or businesses and just start putting up mesh routers. The city owns the goddamn light poles, so attach them to that. Then they could get a crappy 6/768 DSL line and see if it ever get's maxed out. If so, great, incentive to expand. If not, ok, well at least we know.

This reminds me of some software projects where everything is planned out to the max and meetings go on forever and there has to be some broad consensus on everything. I say screw that. Get a small team together in the city, give them some money, and let them do something with it. Start small, go big.

I feel these big negotiations with the telcos is a waste of time. They're quite content with the U.S. being, like 30th or something in rankings of broadband penetration because they're still making loads of cash. They have no interest outside the buck. So remove that faulty part of the equation - permanently - and let the next generation of thinkers and doers take over and actually do something.

Re:What cities really need to do (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400865)

You should not be surprised that the San Francisco WiFi idea ended up going nowhere. The problem with left leaning idealists, and there are plenty of those in San Francisco, is that they do no generally understand how money works and thus they are surprised when their "good ideas" collapse like a house of cards. The idea was doomed to fail from the start in the United States for the following reasons:

1) The fiber backbone networks in the United States that carry most of the traffic traversing the Internet through the United States are privately owned and the owners of those networks want...you guessed it...MONEY yeah! in exchange for your access to their network. So, given that all of you public WiFi must eventually connect to their network somewhere in order to leave the San Francisco area somebody is going to have to pay them and where is that money going to come from? There is no free lunch.

2) The good long range EM spectrum frequencies are licensed to private entities by the government in exchange for...here it comes again...MONEY yeah! So, these frequencies are consequently not available for your nation wide public WiFi network. The government takes this money that they have collected and hopefully (a big question with government of all kinds these days) spends the money in the best interest of the citizens (which is to enforce lawful and civil society and protect us from hordes of foreigners who might want to invade armed with sharp and pointy things and take your laptop by force).

3) The hardware to build your free public WiFi network costs...are your ready? MONEY yeah! Now I know that Google and Earthlink have pledged a certain amount of funds to cover the initial outlays of such a project (because they believe that higher WiFi penetration in San Francisco will increase their ad revenues resulting in more...MONEY yeah! for their pockets or did you believe that Google was doing it out of the goodness of their heart?), but it is difficult to believe that their investors will allow them to move quickly with such a potentially large outlay without some reassurance that this investment will pay off.

There really is nothing wrong with letting the private sector provide WiFi access, if there is a demand for higher speed and people are willing to pay for it then somebody will provide it. It really doesn't matter who provides the access, you will pay one way or another, but most people, myself included, have greater confidence in private business rather than government when it comes to providing cheap, fast, and ubiquitous Internet access.

Typical Government (1)

Cryophallion (1129715) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398565)

So let me see if I understand this:

Chicago: I want you to build a wireless network in our city. We want to access and use the network for free for government usage. We will also take all credit for the initiative.

Companies: Ok, the cost will be...

Chicago: Cost? No, we want this for free. And we want discounted rates for customers here, so they will want to use it instead of dsl or cable. But, we will give you a $.01 credit for every megawatt hour...


Typical government, trying to make a company pay for services it doesn't want to have to pay for for itself, and then wanting the credit. Of course they couldn't reach a deal.

Move to East Anglia (1)

pzs (857406) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398655)

All techy people from Chicago will find what they want [theregister.co.uk] in the historic English city of Norwich [wikipedia.org] .

Peter

Other cities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20401453)

Also, city wide wifi has been coming along in philadelphia, pa. Plans are to have the entire city blanketed in cheap wifi. Initial tests went well, in an area several square miles large. Speeds were even found to be faster than initially expected. They are going ahead with plans to cover the rest of the city. The price is to be in the $10 range from earthlink and download speeds have been measured to be on average 1 mb/sec. So far this is the largest municipal wifi project and one that is going quite well

Sooo... (2, Insightful)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 7 years ago | (#20398907)

[...]and the falling price of residential broadband as reasons for the talks collapsing.

Would like to see where prices go over the next couple of years now that a competitor has been eliminated...

Disappointed (2, Interesting)

CompMD (522020) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399119)

As a Chicagoan (born and raised) I am deeply disappointed. Comcast rapes its customers there for mediocre (at best) service, and they are the biggest game in town.

I don't live there any more, I live far, far away in a smaller city in Kansas. We have our own problems, just like any other city, but with the cooperative efforts of our city commission and a non-profit organization, we figured out how to make a successful, inexpensive, functional, municipal wireless ISP [lawrencefreenet.org] using a mesh network that covers the entire city.

Why can't anyone else?

Re:Disappointed (1)

Propaghandi (873713) | more than 7 years ago | (#20406783)

Lawrence Rules!

Seriously, even though until 5 months ago, I was a Missourian (KC), I've always admired Lawrence-again, although they have issues like any municipality, in general, the city has its collective shit together-unlike a certain larger city to the east (KC, I'm looking at you). Enjoy the Wi-Fi!

Mike

Wireless Oakland (1)

lunartik (94926) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399179)

San Francisco is mired, Chicago gives up but Wireless Oakland [oakgov.com] chugs along. One of my ex-Michigander Bay Area friends can't believe that I have free wireless but the Googlenet (or whatever SF plans) is still not working.

Houston having problems also (2, Interesting)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399589)

http://blogs.chron.com/techblog/archives/2007/08/t he_earthlink_wifi_saga_waiting_for_the_other.html [chron.com] Interesting commentary from Houston Chronicle technology writer Dwight Silverman. His suggestion is to socialize municipal Wi-Fi and have the city run it.

Not the first time (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399611)

Rio Rancho, NM (where Intel made Pentiums) went this route beginning a few years ago. It's had mixed success, with the city threatening to rebid and other actions. One of the allegations made in a local paper (maybe not online, not sure, but you can try AbqTrib links from googling "rio rancho wireless broadband" and getting a trial access or something - I won't) was that the contractor was using home-grade rather than industrial-grade components in severe-environment areas. The following link discusses that they're fixing this and Wichita's POV on it.

http://wichita.bizjournals.com/wichita/stories/200 7/06/04/story3.html [bizjournals.com]

I really don't want to fuel discussions about the evil-ness of businesses but I do want to add to the debate about whether government control or free enterprise are the ways to get this done, and I just want to share - as an admittedly-ridiculous data-point-of-one - views as a resident where this occured, in response to many comments made already.

1. Unfair/hidden taxation. Rio Rancho has a lot of retirees, but it also thinks like it's the 2000s, not the 1990s. IOW, no one really questioned if it were fair if taxes were required for this if they didn't want the service, any more than they question if school taxes are fair if they don't have kids. It adds to the quality of life and with taxation, there has to be give and take. If you live somewhere where quality of life isn't a concern, I suggest moving.

2. Should it be a utility-like thing like water, under city control, etc? Yes. No one trusted that any vendor or vendors could serve students in hard-to-wifi areas, schools, Intel, the city, unless contractually required to do so.

3. Should it be a utility-like thing.... (same question). No. No one trusts city hall to understand the internet correctly.

4. Should it be franchised, like cable? Absolutely not. Horror stories abound with last-mile-of-cable problems, access rates being fixed to near-impossible-to-change copper/fiber/switch infrastructures, not to mention all of the other evils associated with cable franchises. The goal of city-wide wireless access is to fix all of that.

5. That Rio Rancho had trouble and had to re-groove the supplier means the supplier, like any other, will be greedy. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe they just got in over their heads by inexperience. But having contractual control by the city meant they could be compelled to fix things or face a contract lawsuit - way different than the steering-committee nightmares associated with listening to a cable franchise explain (lie) about why something cannot be done. IOW, swift action is occuring.

And I guess that's my overall perspective. It's a new area, but not without precedent. Vendor/providers are still discovering the right way to execute the business, or discovering new business models for this. Cities need to find the right balance between control and bureaucracy. Citizens need to hold their cities and vendors accountable.

Not trying to suggest a utopian model or claim that Rio Rancho's way is right - the jury is still way out on that, but maybe it will be ok.

Just want to emphasize - there are good and bad precendents to study on this.

Pittsburgh failed too (3, Interesting)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399619)

Pittsburgh failed to create a WiFi network in '02 a while back. It cost a bunch of money for almost nothing done. Actually, some lady had her picture in the paper, and there was some hooplah for a day or two.

Then they hired some out-of-state company to install a little hotzone downtown, with two-hours of free access. This was after the other local players tried to bring some sense to whichever committee that was.

In fact, all of the local WiFi businesses in Pittsburgh have all left the city for the west coast, and other cities -- because they can't get any traction, or generate any local business.

Then this guy [shadysidewifi.com] gets a bug up his ass, and starts installing Meraki boxes in his neighborhood. Didn't cost a fortune, didn't take forever, and he didn't have any help. Funny how one man with some money and initiative, can outperform a corporation funded with millions of dollars. Shadysidewifi.com [shadysidewifi.com]

Yeah but (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 7 years ago | (#20405317)

It's in Shadyside.

It's nothing personal--only business. (2, Funny)

RoaldFalcon (1079467) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399773)

This is the start of the Wi-Fi turf wars. Earthlink is going to host hotspots inside AT&T's territory. "They can't muscle their way in here. Everyone knows that we own the south side." Disputes will be settled with tommy guns. There'll be secret meetings with the leaders of the five telecoms. That's Chicago for you.

The other way around (2, Interesting)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#20399995)

and the falling price of residential broadband as reasons for the talks collapsing

Price is falling BECAUSE of the talks as one of the reasons.

Inappropriate use of government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20400521)

The local governments shouldn't be in the business of offering services that already exist, especially when most people don't want YET ANOTHER stealth way for government to engage in TAX GOUGING to give a free handout to 'poor' people (whatever the hell that is).

What I WOULD like to see is competitive market forces that compete with government for our UNETHICALLY EXTRACTED DOLLARS. I would like to see an OUTSOURCED entity that can provide the equivalent services - but for a much lower price. Government has no "competition" - WHY IS THAT?? Why can't we select an entity that is our designated alternative "government" to represent us for a "fee". Their motto would probably be, "We'll screw you less - GUARANTEED!".

Perhaps it's time to explore a "Pay-As-You-Go" government. A government that charges for service as you use it (much like you get a bill when you call for an ambulance). This way, only the TRULY USEFUL government services will survive the marketplace because the revenue it receives will sustain that service. You call the fire department, you get a bill. You call the police, you get a bill. Why should I, or anyone else be FORCED to pay for propping up a school system with run-away expenditures - when I don't even have children in the school? If it's so damn good and important, then I say charge the people who are using that service - not me. Otherwise, give me the opportunity to 'rent' school rooms during the evening so I can conduct workshops for profit - and help offset these oppressive taxes.

Current government services that don't offer any real or tangible value to the majority of its tax-paying citizens, the ones who have a politically appointed "director" with a salary of a few hundred thousand dollars per year, will not be able to survive because it won't be able to generate the revenue stream to sustain itself. And that's a good thing because it gets the CONFISCATORY and EVER-INCREASING TAX VULTURE off our backs!!

We already pay way too much in taxes (both visible and stealth/invisible) - look at your phone bill, your gas bill, your electric bill, your "whatever" bill. Yep, there's that pesky leeching government taking money from you -- even though they didn't add any value to the product/service you purchased. In each and every instance, the government's cut is about 30 PERCENT of your total bill. Even the gas taxes (in Michigan, it's about 58 cents out of every dollar) are outrageous. JEEZUS, that's a 58 PERCENT SALES TAX. The government (and tree-huggers) have a lot of gall calling the oil companies greedy. It's the GREEDY GOVERNMENTS that are responsible for making us all poor.

But I digress...

Since government has this "itching" need to provide 'free' stuff, how about providing us all with FREE WATER, FREE PHONE SERVICE, FREE CABLE SERVICE, FREE EDUCATION, TAX-FREE residential zones, etc.

I'm already taxed way too much (my estimate is that it's about 57 PERCENT of my income - counting both the visible and stealth taxes). I don't need any more taxes to provide "services" (wi-fi or otherwise) to the "poor". If these people are so "poor", how come they mostly all have cable tv (many even have large plasma tvs), brand new cars, electric dishwashers, go out to eat several evenings per week, and are way-too fat (something you never see in truly poor people), etc.?

These "poor" are really unproductive, unmotivated, lazy people who want to get a free ride (courtesy of the DEMONcRAT party) and AT MY EXPENSE - and yours too.

From now on, I will just SAY NO! No to taxes, No to supporting non-productive parasites, No to pork-barrel, No to increased school taxes (for the 'children' - which in reality ALWAYS gets sucked up by administrator/teacher salary increases). What I AM for is, responsible and conservative government. The way that happens is to put all levels of government on a budget (just like the rest of us poor saps). You jerks need to start being responsible and living within your means. Fiscal Irresponsibility is NO LONGER AN OPTION that these Jerks in government can rely upon.

I am EAGERLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE NEXT ELECTIONS - so I can FIRE these Jerks.

NOTICE TO ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT: We are NOT your personal ATM machine. Keep pushing and those of us that are armed will start 'exploring' ways to 'remove' dangerous rogue politicians who engage in confiscatory strangling taxes that are abusing and suppressing the rest of us into poverty.

THANK GOD FOR THE SECOND AMENDMENT - the people who founded this country saw this and created this SPECIFIC provision in the U.S. Constitution as a way for us all to get OPPRESSIVE and CONFISCATORY government OFF OUR BACK!

You are probably the wrong audience (3, Insightful)

ishmalius (153450) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400531)

Just the fact that you are chatting happily on Slashdot indicates that you have Internet access, and you will likely not be a customer of any government-subsidized WiFi. The people who are NOT speaking here are the potential beneficiaries. Think more altruistically. Just because YOU don't need it, doesn't mean that other people don't.

That is like saying, "Why donate food and clothing to the homeless? I have all I need."

Re:You are probably the wrong audience (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 7 years ago | (#20401537)

How many of those people even have a computer to connect to the Internet with?

Re:You are probably the wrong audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20402053)

and how many of them are going to get turned into a botnet?

Re:You are probably the wrong audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20401963)

Think more altruistically.

No, YOU think more altruistically, and keep your hand out of my wallet. If you want me to help out the poor, show some respect for the fact that it's MY money. Don't ask the city to tax and spend my money on your, or anyone else's, behalf. And no, I don't care if the majority wants something. I'm an individual who might be willing to help out the majority, but only on my terms. I'm not asking the city to take your money and help the poor in a way I see fit, so please do the same for me. Thank you.

WiMAX - Way to go, WiFi go away! (2, Insightful)

maxrate (886773) | more than 7 years ago | (#20400891)

WiMAX is the way to go. WiFi isn't truley designed for long-range mobile access. Yes, I have seen plenty of WiFi mobile solutions, but in reality they just aren't reliable. WiMAX mini-PCI cards in notebooks is definately where we'll be at in a couple of years. Metropolitan area broadband deployment over WiFi is simply not the best solution, and is backwards thinking in my opinion. WiFi should stay at home and the work place for private networks and small hotspots. There is no reason why license free WiMAX can't be implemented. A licensed approach (although it involves the -evil- telco's typically) would be of higher quality of service (presumably) - but the cost of broadband is really not very high if it is implemented by responsible companies that haven't gone too greedy.

Re:WiMAX - Way to go, WiFi go away! (1)

uncreativ (793402) | more than 7 years ago | (#20406463)

I have to whole heartedly agree. Wifi just isn't reliable. Wimax is the way to go. I've seen municipal wifi up close and personal--more than I wish I ever had. Here in the midwest, Chicago has pulled out, Milwaukee may never get off the ground and Madison's wifi network has fizzled.

I really think a technology that does not exist in everyone's home, and different frequencies from home devices, needs to be set aside for the purpose of making such services reliable. Wimax is also a far superior technology for delivering service to the home user. People want wifi to replace their existing home service, and it is just not reliable enough.

Too bad for Chicago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20400917)

I live in a city with municipal high speed cable and wifi. It was one of the first cities to do it in the late 90's. Business is great, people love it. Charter tries to compete every once in a while, but can't seem to offer more for less. Quasi-socialism is horrible in theory, but great in practice. Too bad capitalism couldn't be as effective.

Support is a killer (2, Insightful)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | more than 7 years ago | (#20401437)

We're trying to offer WIFI at two motels, a campus, and a 3 mile run to a farm using wireless bridging on non 802 technology.

My god, support's a pain. Wifi router drops. Some moron opens up bit torrent and kills the pipe. Some idiot decides to run his own Wireless bridge and run on the same channels we use, but he's packet capturing the data.

The utilities decide to unplug our fiber. The AP quits handing out DHCP. The ISP goes down. Why can't I get Wifi in this one room? The news crew bounces microwave into our wifi bringing it down. The WIFI gets hit by lightening. The UPS battery needs replaced. The WIFI gets hit by construction workers, causing the directional Yagi to be aimed just wrong enough.

I can't imagine trying to support the entire Chicago area with Wifi.

Good news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20402841)

This is actually good. Cities have no business using tax money on "free" wi-fi.

In an age where roads go un-repaired, crime fighting is underfunded, schools are in disrepair, cities are always clamoring for more tax money...the basics should be taken care of first.

Free wi-fi doesn't reduce crime, doesn't help build schools, doesn't pay tewacher or police or firefighter salaries.

When cities have solved all the basic fundamental problems that they are *responsible* for, then and only then should even one dime of public money for for "free wi-fi".

Check out this cool webpage! (0, Offtopic)

Poseiden (575105) | more than 7 years ago | (#20405309)

08/ world/ 2007/ vanishing-england topix.net/ united-kingdom/
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