Items tagged "Municipal Wi-Fi"

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Boucher Wants to Improve America’s Broadband

June 7, 2007 Broadband , Municipal Wi-Fi , Network Neutrality , Policy Blog

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) gave the opening keynote at the Broadband Policy Summit today in Arlington.

He noted that America is the home of the Internet and remains its technological and economic leader, and that in terms of raw numbers, America is the world leader in broadband. But he is concerned with America's 15th-place ranking in the recent OECD study. He detailed a number of plans he thinks would help improve broadband penetration in America.

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Chicago Digital Access Alliance proposes Digital Inclusion Principles

February 20, 2007 Broadband , Municipal Wi-Fi , Network Neutrality , Policy Blog

From Sascha Meinrath at MuniWireless, we learn that the Chicago Digital Access Alliance have developed a 10-point set of principles for every locale to consider when tackling the issue of municipal WiFi and digital inclusion in general.

Here's a quick rundown (remember, drafted specifically for Chicago):

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Meanwhile, In Memphis . . . .

January 10, 2007 FCC , Municipal Wi-Fi , Open Access to Research , Policy Blog , Spectrum Reform

While my friends at PK get to enjoy the fun and toys at CES (someone pick me up a free Sling Box!), I am off to Memphis Tennessee for Free Press' National Conference on Media Reform (although I expect some of my friends now at CES will likewise join me there).

NCMR will bring together a large number of folks (over 3000) who care about issues central to the information commons: how to prevent a few gatekeepers from controlling the flow of information. On the agenda will include spectrum reform, network neutrality, franchising and cable public access, and media ownership.

One of the things NCMR underscores is the width, depth and complexity of the fight to prevent monopolization and propertization of information. As most folks by now realize, information does not "want" to be free any more than it "wants" to be owned or scarce. It's all about policy choices, and whether we as citizens chose to push for the right policy choices.

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Metro Goes Wi-Fi

November 15, 2006 Blog Posts , Municipal Wi-Fi

One of the great frustrations of riding on our Washington Metro subway system is that the cellular reception is so spotty. And don't even think of bringing out your laptop to check mail.

But now it looks as if Metro is going to move into the 21st century. On Nov. 7, the transit agency issued a Request for Proposals to build a wireless system throughout the Metro system. The system would cover the station platforms and entries, underground pathways, tunnels, stairs, escalators and elevators.

The complete system would carry cellular voice and data, broadband data, WiFi and WiMax signals for Metro's passengers, and also be used for internal Metro communications and as well for a public safety system for first responders.

The wording of the RFP is a bit confusing. Metro said the system will provide "the Authority (Metro) and its ridership a publicly accessible Wireless Internet Service Provider system that utilizes WiFi and/or WiMax."

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FCC Resists Cyren Call, Saves Spectrum Ship From Smashing on Shore of Self-Interest

November 6, 2006 Municipal Wi-Fi , Policy Blog , Spectrum Reform

Today the FCC dismissed the Petition for Rulemaking filed by Cyren Call to give Cyren Call 30 MHz of spectrum for free.

Technically, of course, Cyren Call was promising a whole bunch of other stuff as well. You can see their official website here.

Briefly, as most folks reading this know, Congress finally set a hard date for broadcasters to finish the digital conversion. This will clear 60 MHz of broadcast spectrum. Congress ordered the FCC to set aside 24 MHz of this for a national public safety band, and auction the remaining 36 MHz. Because broadcast spectrum has very good propogation properties, everyone expects this 36 MHz of spectrum to produce even more money at auction than the recent AWs auction.

Cyren Call proposed that the FCC should reallocate 30 MHz of the 36 MHz set aside for commercial spectrum to a single licensee, to be called the "Public Safety Broadband Trust." The PSBT will build a national wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety use.

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FCC Makes Important Open Spectrum Decision

November 2, 2006 FCC , Municipal Wi-Fi , Policy Blog , Spectrum Reform

Yesterday, the FCC issued long awaited decision resolving Continental Airline's complaint that Massport cannot order it to shut down its free wifi access for Continental customers. But the decision does a lot more than that.

First, the decision discussed critical similarities and differences between unlicensed spectrum and licensed spectrum. It affirmed that unlicensed spectrum, like its licensed relative, has become an important vehicle for delivery of wireless services. The Commission has therefore extended the rules that protect a person's freedom to chose licensed wireless services and equipment to unlicensed services.

The FCC first created these rules, called the "over the air receiver device" or OTARD rules, to protect the ability of people in rental housing or condo associations to get satellite TV dishes — even if landlords or condo associations said no. The FCC reasoned it needed to overide the rights of landlords to dictate terms to tenants to promote competition in video services. In 2000, the FCC extended the OTARD rules to transcievers for licensed wireless services. The Commission again reasoned that it needed to protect the rights of residents in rental housing, or businesses renting office space, to promote competition in the delivery of telecommunications and data services.

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FTC Report:”Let Localities Decide on Muniwireless”

October 11, 2006 Municipal Wi-Fi , Policy Blog

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission released a report on municipal broadband. Specifically, the staff report tried to address the question, thoughtfully included in the title of the press release, "Should Municipalities Provide Wireless Internet Service?" Jon Leibowitz, the one Democrat (the other non-Republican, Pamela Jones Harbor, is an independent), issued a concurring statement strongly supporting the right of localities to provide broadband services as a needed competitor and potential "third pipe" into the home.

For me, the important bottom line on the Report is that each locality needs to make its own decision on whether to provide internet service, and under what model. Accordingly, it is a phenomenally bad idea to pass laws that impose blanket bans (like Nebraska's), or which limit the flexibility of localities to act (like Pennsylvania's law, which gives private companies a right of first refusal before municipalities can build their own systems).

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Nebraska Looks To Remain Muni Free

September 28, 2006 Municipal Wi-Fi , Policy Blog

As some of you may recall, about 15 states considered legislation that would have prohibitted or effectively prohibitted municipal broadband systems. The only state to pass what ammounts to an absolute ban on new munibroadbad systems in 2005 was Nebraska. To throw the supporters of munibroadband a bone, the statute created a state commission to study the munibroadband question.

According to this op ed in the Lincoln, NB JournalStar, the Broadband Service Task Force (BSTF) is likely to recommend continuing the ban. According to the author of the op ed — Jack Gould, Chair of Common Cause NB (Common Cause national as well as local chapters have opposed legislative bans on muni systems) — this recommendation does not flow from independent research or even public sentiment expressed by the citizens of NB at open meetings. Rather, despite a 200K budget, the BSTF started late, did no independent research, and has not held a meeting where members of the public can testify. Instead, it has relied on written submissions from interested parties.

A coalition of national organizations (including my employer Media Access Project, Common Cause, and other national and Nebraska orgs) submitted comments opposing the munibroadband ban (with a big shout out to the Brennan Center for drafting the comments). But so have the local incumbents whom, Jack Gould notes, have a lot more weight with local policy makers than distant public interest groups who do not contribute to local campaigns.

I feel bad for the people of Nebraska, but only to a point. The key reason (IMHO) Nebraska adopted a muni ban last year when all other states rejected such proposals is that in all other states, local organizations came together and enlisted the help of local citizens to fight the proposals. By contrast, the folks in Nebraska tried to settle the matter with an insider compromise, then got rolled the last week the legislature was in service. Even now, the people of Nebraska could decide to get involved in this issue. But they haven't. So they will get the government they deserve.

Yesterday, Alex posted that the sponsors of the Copyright Modernization Act of 2006 got withdrawn from mark-up. Alex made a point of thanking everyone for once again calling their members of Congress to protest yet another expansion of IP rights at the expense of the public. Alex was exactly right.

As Nebraska continues to prove, what makes the difference between a succesful campaign against special interest legislation and a failure is citizen participation. It is an old chestnut of public policy that special interests can prevail because it is too hard for citizens to mobilize effectively against a cadre of extremely mobilized, disciplined lobbyists acting in their self-interest. But when the public does mobilize, it proves very effective in stopping special interest legislation.

The internet has helped make citizen engagement, civic discourse, and collective action easier. But it doesn't magically solve the problem. And, paradoxically, there is a danger that the very success of citizen engagement will ultimately lead to its failure. We keep beating back legislation like the CMA of 2006, but the special interests are still around to try again next Congress. Will the people who call their members of Congress eventually decide "oh, I don't need to make that call; these bills never pass"? Will the people who pay to support Public Knowledge and other organizations (such as my own employer, Media Access Project) eventually say "Oh, that isn't an emergency anymore. This year I'll support something to do with global warming"?

As the folks in Nebraska are finding out, you only have to lose once. Yeah, it's a hassle to have to make the same phone call every few months to remind your member of Congress they work for you, not the RIAA. But it's more of a hassle to have to live in a world where we leave policy to the motivated special interests that don't mind taking the time to exercise their First Amendment right to "petition their government for redress of grievances."

Stay tuned . . .

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Mesh Tech gets Funding

July 19, 2006 Broadband , Municipal Wi-Fi , Policy Blog

Mesh networking today got a boost from the NSF, reports Om Malik. It comes in the form of a grant to Sasha Meinrath and the Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network.

A mesh network can be different than the usual Muni WiFi setup–it's true peer-to-peer networking, where nodes on the network can talk to each other in an ad-hoc fashion as opposed to going thru a central server (unlike a typical WiFi setup which uses a hub and spoke {h&s} network). Why does this matter? Well for one, it minimizes the single point failure in an h&s, because there isn't necessarily a "central" resource. Instead, if a resource becomes unavailable, just connect via another node.

What Sasha does a great job at presenting is how current broadband business models make absolutely no sense, when you realize what a community can do with inexpensive off-the-shelf parts and some brilliant open-source software.

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Anaheim launches Muni Wi-Fi – D.C.’s making plans.

July 6, 2006 Municipal Wi-Fi , News , Policy Blog

Communications Daily reported on Monday that D.C. technology officials announced at the WCA's wireless broadband conference that the city will have a municipal broadband network. However, the city has no specific plan for a network. It just has a plan to have a plan. Officials haven't sent out information requests yet, and questions about what technology to use and how best to implement it between residents, businesses and government are up in the air.

On the other side of the country, Anaheim, California launched its municipal wi-fi service late last week. The fee based service currently covers 10 square miles of the 49 square mile city, and there are plans to finish the network by the end of the year. Anaheim is currently the largest U.S. city to offer municipal Wi-Fi.

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