San Francisco One-Ups Redmond

The citywide Wi-Fi meme catapulted to another level yesterday when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom boldly announced that,

"We will not stop until every San Franciscan has access to free wireless Internet service," he said in his annual state of the city address. "These technologies will connect our residents to the skills and the jobs of the new economy." [Reuters by way of...geez, quite a few emails and blog posts have been flying my way this AM.]

The timing of this announcement is interesting.

Politcians across North America (and probably Europe and Asia as well) are fumbling for their political calculators about now. How much will it cost me? Surprisingly little. What will be the payback? Quick! Somebody conduct a scientific poll to determine what us voters think of cheap, high speed Internet service (and throw in ala carte cable, will ya?).

Would you be more or less willing to vote for a mayor or city councilmember who supports the provision of high speed, ubiquitous, wireless Internet connectivity for a cost of pennies on the dollar to your current service?

Comments (15)

  1. Jerry Pisk says:

    I doubt that connecting several million users to the internet will be as cheap as everybody thinks. The initial WiFi (or other wireless) setup will be cheap, but the cost of the bandwidth connecting it to the rest of internet will be huge, especially if you give it to everybody for free. Unless of course you skimp on your backbone connections and just by a single T3 line (which is what yearly cost of $18,000 would imply), then it will be cheap but completely unusable.

  2. Johan Ericsson says:

    The earlier poster brings up an interesting post regarding the cost of the bandwidth. What kind of bandwidth would such a system require? How do you ensure that some don’t hog all the bandwidth at the expense of others?

    From a more general perspective, what is the compelling government interest in getting involved in this? The private sector is already involved here, with T-mobile hotspots opening up throughout the country.

    How do you justify the tax expense to the poorest of workers, those who are just struggling to get by?

    How do you ensure that the government won’t use the wi-fi as an excuse to monitor and record its citizen’s internet usage?

    How do you help parents monitor their children’s usage of this "ISP"?

    What kind of liability does the government acquire by providing this service? Is the cost of the liability accurately accounted for in the estimates?

  3. David Cleary says:

    When has government ever provided cheaper/better service than industry? Why stop at internet service then? Couldn’t cable and phone also be provided for pennies on the dollar?

  4. Michael Wolf says:

    Yeah that’s a preety bold statment to give eveyone in SF free WiFi. I agree it can’t be very fasunless they dump more than 1 T3 line in. We will see if this really pans out. I’d think there would be alot people wanting to use the connection for there p2p downloads as well 😉

    Surfing the web won’t be the concern. Downloading will kill the bandwidth.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Its funny when the mayor says: "These technologies will connect our residents to the skills and the jobs of the new economy.", when he probably meant to say "These technologies allow our residents to download massive amounts of pr0n and pirate music."

    In these free wi-fi zones, do you require registration, or is your usage completely anonymous?

  6. Scott Allen says:

    I’m curious: what do the ISPs / telcos / cable providers in Redmond think?

  7. Any politician that even knows what Wi-fi is – or what the difference between a hub and switch is – has at least an ounce of intelligence and that’s worth electing him or her alone.

    I know that here in Redmond they’ve been pushing for it. It’s good to hear of a larger city that has actually implemented it. I’m sure that will prove positive for the policitian here (I forget his name) that has been pushing hard for it.

    And to Scott Allen, the cable providers in the US are few: they are remnants of a divided AT&T. Comcast controls pretty much the western seaboard while Mediacom covers almost all of the midwest (where I’m from originally, and I can assure you Comcast is much better). I doubt a 45,000 person city is any threat to them, especially since they still have a monopoly (in this region) on cable/digital cable television.

  8. Jerry Pisk says:

    Heath got the real problem – both phone and cable companies still have a monopoly. That’s why you don’t see any real services from them, because they simply have no competition.

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