Friday, January 19, 2007

Toledo announces wireless broadband initiative

Toledo Blade yesterday:
The city of Toledo could become the first major city in Ohio to have wireless Internet access citywide under a proposal presented yesterday by Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

A leading potential bidder is EarthLink, which operates the wireless or "wi-fi" network in Philadelphia, although Buckeye CableSystem, Inc., AT&T, and others are expected to bid for the citywide license.

Mr. Finkbeiner, who has boasted of Toledo's 2005 designation by Intel Corp. as the fifth "most-unwired" city in the nation, said his administration has distributed a request for proposals (RFP) for providers who could make wireless Internet service available throughout the city's 88 square miles.

... The mayor said the contract would not cost taxpayers a penny, but would provide plenty of benefits: free wireless service to city agencies, such as police and fire departments; free wireless access in certain public buildings and outdoor areas; and discounted wireless service for low-income people. Most people would pay an undetermined fee to use the service.

... He said the wireless network would make fast Internet speeds available to families that don't have high-speed telephone or broadband cable connections in their homes.

"When we talk about the lower income we're really talking about the children who need to do research, do their homework. They need access," he said. He said dial-up access to the Internet is so slow that many sites effectively are off-limits.

Ms. Scott said the cost to a regular subscriber is likely to be $20 to $25 per month, and half that to people who qualify for the low-income discount. It would be free in public housing developments.

... The RFP states that "although some indoor users may be able to connect to the system, the service is not intended to compete with commercially available Internet service and should not replace existing home or business Internet access."

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