Thursday, January 31, 2008

Proposal for citywide wireless Internet aborted

Told ya.
Proposal for citywide wireless Internet aborted: "Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration has shelved an effort to extend wireless Internet access to computer users citywide.
First off, when Bob O'Connor goes down in history as the one who took Pittsburgh out of the dark ages in the information world -- we've got problems.

Bob wanted WiFi for the All Star game -- so Pittsburgh could show itself off like Spokane and about 30-other cities that had wi-fi for limited coverage at sidewalk levels for 120 minutes of use without charge in an unsecure network.

I called for and wanted free wifi for everyone in the city -- not just downtown locations.

We need wifi in neighborhoods where kids do homework and where people who don't have upscale condos reside.

Putting wifi downtown was the best way to guarantee that it would NOT go anywhere else. They got to pick our cherries -- taking a grant to do so. We got screwed.

And, the downtown wifi carrier deal dried up a few months ago anyway. It went bust. It has failed in a miserable fashion. Use is light. Others have scrambled to pick up the pieces.

The city administration does what it generally does -- nothing. They'll wait. They'll do too little, too late. They'll keep squandering the opportunities. They'll let the digital divide grow wider and deeper.

Plus, they are not meeting about it. They are not calling for open RFPs. They are not trying to instigate anything with open conversations.

There is a new push to make cameras spy on citizens -- at red lights, on public streets -- but no push to make the infrastructure work for citizens, just against us.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

rest of article

A request issued in August for ideas from companies in the Wi-Fi field yielded just one valid response, said City Information Systems Director Howard Stern. Chicago-based Diamond Management and Technology Consultants was willing to consult with the city on ways to get wireless coverage from the West End to East Hills.

But two other firms suggested systems that would have cost the city millions of dollars. That was outside of the scope of the city's request for concepts, and convinced administrators that the time was not right to plunge into the wireless market.

"We're going to hold off and see where the markets go in the next few months, or six months, or one year," said Mr. Stern. "This market changes like we change socks."

The decision to back-burner the push for citywide Wi-Fi comes as companies withdraw from the market. Whereas providers were once offering to build systems for free, cities are now balking at multimillion-dollar price tags.

A wait-and-see posture "is prudent," Councilman William Peduto, the body's point man on wireless technology, said yesterday. "Cellular [Internet] is already coming out with systems that would probably be affordable" for a citywide deployment.

Private Wi-Fi providers continue to operate in several neighborhoods, including Downtown, where the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has a network temporarily run by Bloomfield-based aspStation Inc. The partnership is trying to finalize a contract with a long-term operator to replace bankrupt U.S. Wireless Online Inc.

"There's definitely a commitment on our part to keep this up and running Downtown," said partnership spokeswoman Hollie Plevyak.

Eric Williams said...

"I called for and wanted free wifi for everyone in the city -- not just downtown locations."

How is this a libertarian position, Mark?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Who said it was?

But, it can still be.

The details say that the marketplace can fix this problem -- without public investment.

Downtown wifi was without charges to the city. But, the city's leaders were too dumb and only settled for downtown wifi. The rest of the city was left empty. A no charge deal could have been hatched for the entire city.

Anonymous said...

You'd think this could work some how for someone (a city) with the right approach to this...what other cities have implemented this with success city wide? Without public funds?

Eric Williams said...

"Who said it was?"

It's been a long while since my last visit here. I was under the impression that you were a libertarian.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Yes. I still am a Libertarian. I have considered a change in voter registration to "R" so I could vote in PA's closed primary on April 22. But, for now, I'm still a "L" -- with libertarian thoughts / ideas / policy wishes.

I call myself a common sense libertarian.

The internet and tech literacy is important to me too.

I think that the city could play a role in helping to complete (without funds) the efforts to make wifi a city-wide benefit.

The PDP (Pgh Downtown Partnership) did plenty to hype wifi a while ago. The city could and should have had a different approach back then. And, still today.

Eric Williams said...

The internet and tech literacy are important to me, too, but I tend to think it's not the responsibility of government to give people free WiFi.