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[f2c] Municipal wifi

(After a morning with no women speakers or questioners, we now have a panel with a woman on it. Yay.)

J.H. Snider moderates. [Sketchy coverage follows…]

Varinia Robinson is in charge of Philadelphia’s municipal wifi project. You have to get your muni wifi in by Jan. 1, 2006, or else you have go to your local provider. This was done to protect “competition.” The city thinks it’ll cost $10.5M to build it and $1.5M annually to maintain it. It will cover 45 square miles and provide a mnimum of 1mb up and down. It’s an ubiquitous indoor network. To break even, they have to make it available indoors. They’re looking at providing broadband access at dialup prices. (Harold Feld points out that the incumbent got a $600M incentive for moving their hq downtown, yet they yelp about a $10M network.)

Dewayne Hendricks, who has a habit of providing telecommunications infrastructures in unregulated areas — Tonga, Indian reservations, etc.) is now working on providing wireless networks that cover hundreds of square miles. He’s hopeful that we’re going to keep matching wireless speeds with the speeds we need on our computers. He also talks about “smart dust”: Radios that are like grains of sand that mesh automatically. Dust Networks in the Bay area is already doing this.

Ben Scott: In state after state, there are grass roots efforts fighting the incumbents’ attempts to put through favorable legislation.

Harold Feld: Municipal wifi could be like taxis: You have the basic service available to anyone, but there’s room for higher-end services such as limos. [Technorati tags: ]

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