Broadband as amenity causes battles in US cities

Written by Jason Cundall

October 21, 2005 | 16:02

Tags: #cities #earthlink #philadelphia #san-francisco #us #wifi

Companies: #google

Attempts in several large US cities to provide fast wi-fi broadband connections for it's citizens, essentially giving the populace information - much like it's water supply - 'on tap' are causing spats to break out with the traditional wired telco corporations and businesses:

"A growing number of cities in the US are treating high-speed internet as a basic amenity for citizens, like running water or the electricity grid. But as the concept expands so does the battle with big business.

Earlier this month, Philadelphia - one of America's oldest and most historic cities - thrust itself onto the technological frontline by announcing plans to build the biggest municipal wireless internet system in the country.

The 135-square-mile network will be built and managed by Earthlink, and will offer low-income residents a service for about $10 (£5.70) a month.

A clutch of other cities are hoping to follow suit with free or low-cost services aimed at reconnecting poor communities, growing local businesses and giving new flexibility to the emergency services.

In a couple of weeks, San Francisco will announce the results of its call for proposals on providing a wireless service to the city's 750,000 inhabitants.

One bid that sent shockwaves through the industry came from Google, which offered to blanket the city with free wireless high-speed internet access - funded by advertising.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said: "This is inevitable - wi-fi. It is long overdue. It is to me a fundamental right to have access universally to information." "

More from the BBC here.

Obviously, the incumbent providers are running scared of this - it threatens their profits. Who'd use a cable or ADSL connection when you have an always free, always on wireless system?

What do you think? Would you, given the chance, use a service such as this - even if it was plastered with ads, as put forth in the Google proposal? Or is the cheap utility style approach the better bet? Maybe you'd stick with your existing connection method.

Whichever view you have, let us know in the news forum - which are 100% ad free. Well, apart from those ones down the side, and at the top...
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