Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bad Idea

"New York City--yes, the Big Apple--is considering following in the footsteps of Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans and a host of other cities planning to offer free WiFi to local residents. On Monday city council member Gale Brewer, chairwoman of the Committee on Technology in Government, held a legislative hearing on a proposed bill which would create a special commission to advise Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city council on how the city can get affordable broadband access to all its residents. The commission will learn about the different technology options available and educate the public about them. The vote on the bill is scheduled for December 21. If New York builds out its own WiFi network, it will be the biggest deployment of municipal WiFi in the country and even the world."

This is more laughable than anything else. As a point of reference, I design and install wireless networks for corporate clients in New York City. I don't care that it's going to be free but I do care that it will step all over existing wireless implementations. In point of fact, this will generate tons of business for me as my clients call to say that their wireless networks no longer work! I'll just keep turning up the power on the Access Points as far as they can go and see what happens. If the New York City free wireless network is anything like the for-profit one that Verizon has in place then my clients will certainly lose the battle of the airwaves. You see, Verizon can overpower any signal that I can legally configure for my clients. When all is said and done, I will end up ripping out wireless networks that were functioning fine before the free wireless network was installed.

My question: Is providing wireless Internet access a proper function of government?

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