San Francisco Sees Economic Vitality in Citywide Wi-Fi - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News
News
8/17/2005
04:51 PM
50%
50%

San Francisco Sees Economic Vitality in Citywide Wi-Fi

While lawmakers in some parts of the country are fighting to ban free wireless broadband access, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is looking at it as a potential tool for fixing community problems.

While lawmakers in some parts of the country are fighting to ban free wireless broadband access, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is looking at it as a potential tool for fixing community problems.

Newsom announced the city's TechConnect initiative Wednesday, appealing to commercial interests, non-profit organizations, community groups and other interested individuals to help the city provide affordable broadband access. The goal is to make Wi-Fi available in all corners of the city, to all residents.

And, he's not stopping there. Newsom is also looking for ways to provide hardware, software and training to those who cannot afford it on their own.

"TechConnect will connect all San Franciscans to the social, educational, informational and economic opportunities they need to succeed in the increasingly competitive local, national and international economies of the 21st Century," Newsom said in a written statement.

The San Francisco mayor has joined dozens of local government leaders now teaming up with non-profit and grassroots organizations to increase public access. Meanwhile, telecommunications companies are looking to federal officials to stop the trend. Both sides claim their way is the most likely to help the United States catch up in an international race for broadband penetration.

In their appeal for public input, San Francisco leaders point out that the United States' ranking for broadband penetration has fallen from third to sixteenth in four years. It states that the change is resulting in American job losses.

The city is considering all options for providing a low-cost network, including: offering it as a municipal service, forming a utility, and creating a public-private partnership.

Newsom said a citywide wireless broadband network could help improve government efficiency, promote access to healthcare, increase public safety through better communication and market the city to tourists.

Federal representatives, who have proposed legislation to block free public networks, argue that government-provided services are inferior to those that survive the rigors of competition.

Republican Senator John Ensign, of Nevada, is among them. He recently introduced the "Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act of 2005."

The bill states that "a patch work quilt of state and local regulations will only stifle growth and cause undue costs and burdens." U.S. Representative Pete Sessions, a Republican from Texas, introduced the "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005." The bill would ban local governments from offering phone, information or cable services unless private companies failed to provide them.

Gina Vaughn, director of communications for Sessions, said he introduced the legislation because he "believes the Americans economy is based on entrepreneurship, not state-sponsored industry."

"Governments should not compete against private industries that they tax and regulate," she said. "The Congressman believes strongly that this variety of unfair competition will crowd out private investment and limit the roll out of technologies."

Joe Wilcox, a Jupiter Research analyst, said both arguments are valid.

"If you look at, say South Korea, where there are government initiatives behind broadband, their penetration is the highest in the world, or nearly that," he said. "In a sense government here already provides those types of services. Already, libraries are providing computers and internet access."

Wilcox said current security issues, like a worm taking down media systems this week, show a need for diligence in making sure access is safe and secure.

"If you look at the commercial market, competition creates incentive to provide faster service and safer services," he said.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
News
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Commentary
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
Slideshows
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll