Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Municipal Networks, the Great Equalizer

Joi Ito's post on Municipal WiFi Networks brings-up good points about benefits they can bring to many communities.

I totally believe Hermosa Beach is one such community. We've got no debt. We've got the money, the means, motivation from constituents. For reasons that are beyond me, two council members have kept this project at a deadlock since its original roll-out a year-ago. For an investment totalling under $200,000 since the project's inception, we could have had near-ubiquitous WiFi-powered broadband, with ongoing costs entirely subsidized by unobtrusive advertisement from local businesses, keeping usage free to end-users, with plenty of opportunities to further monetize the system by selling power-features to end-users such as routable static IP addresses. The plans we had in place were backing our Internet link by a fiber backbone, allowing the city to keep buying more DS3 circuits as usage would increase. The city has a roughly 2-mile radius, with about 10,000 Homes and 19,000 residents.

To put things in perspective, we're about to complete a very nice "Pier Renovation Project" that has cost the city upward of $6 Million.

Are we screwing the pooch? I believe we are. Eric Black, from LA Unplugged, had scored us a bid for roughly $100,000 worth of free WiFi equipment, we missed the offer window, now if look to do this again, the project will go from $146,000 to $246,000. Still a steal, all things considered.

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