Cities across the country are rushing to go wireless – it’s cheaper to install, cheaper for users than cable, much faster than dial-up and generally more cost-effective all around. Yet municipalities are running into opposition as they attempt to transform their cities into Wi-Fi hotspots. The central issue becomes: should local governments outsource their wireless initiatives to the private sector – or is this a case where government can actually compete against the private wireless industry?
Esme Vos, founder of muniwireless.com, says municipal wireless is an important initiative for all cities. It breaks open the DSL/cable duopoly that exists almost everywhere and provides a new area for competing service, she says. The prospects of city-wide wireless capability are endless – Vos says it would help low-income families get access to high-speed internet as well as allow city employees to access databases from anywhere. For example, in a wireless city police could monitor various video cameras while stationed in their squad cars.
And Steven Titch of the Reason Foundation, appearing alongside Vos on “Power Lunch,” doesn’t disagree. But he says the problem starts when government gets involved, as it almost always tends to fall short of expectations – especially when competing against a private industry, according to Titch.