I’m not a fan of plans to install a Wi-Fi network across the city of Boston.
Regardless of who pays, it’s a waste of time, effort, and money.
From the Globe:
In an ideal wireless Boston, people would do a lot more than check e-mail. They might take online classes to learn English or earn an MBA. Entrepreneurs could launch small businesses. Public school students who were at home sick could find homework assignments and videos of that day’s classes. Tourists could use handheld devices to download information on sightseeing tours.
Okay, that is so impractical as to not warrant a response. It is the silliest thing I have ever heard of. Do people even do this, today, on their own computers???
Drivers could pay for their parking spots using cellphones instead of parking meters. They would get a message when their time was about to run out, and add more money via the phone instead of running back to the meter. Attendants could monitor the parking electronically, instead of on foot. Firefighters could download the blueprints of burning buildings. Real-time crime information could make it easier to deploy police officers. And instead of playing telephone tag, social workers would order additional services for clients online.
THOSE THINGS ARE NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!
Why does the Mayor (and City Councilor John Tobin) even want to have wireless available, city-wide?
Menino has three sound goals for wireless service in the city: close the digital divide; encourage economic development; and improve city services.
I don’t see having a wireless network does anything to meet any of those goals.
I am extremely skeptical that city services will improve, at all, using a wireless network. Think of the additional expense, beyond the wireless network, to make it possible.
Here’s the funny thing. The Internet is available, city-wide. Anyone who has cable TV has access to the Internet, through Comcast.
If people are willing to pay $30, $60, or $100 for cable TV, they are certainly in a financial situation where they can spend $39 for Internet access. Regardless of income.
The Boston Foundation released a study, in February, of Internet usage, throughout the city. Entitled “Boston Unplugged”, it talks about how people use the Internet, today. It also analyzes who uses and who doesn’t use the Internet, along with the reasons why.
Of particular concern is the fact that across the board “across racial, educational and income levels” over half the respondents who did not have internet access said they didn’t need it or were not interested. Other reasons respondents gave for not having high-speed (broadband) Internet access, include cost and availability. More than one-third said it was too expensive; 7 percent said it was not available in their area, and the remaining 6 percent had other reasons.
As data show, the lowest income groups and those with the least education were most likely to say it was too expensive. Lack of availability was not a major reason, except among Asian Americans, although this result may be the artifact of a small sample size.
Fifty-percent of those households with incomes less than $30,000 said they did not have internet access because it was “too expensive”; the other 50% said they didn’t have it, because they “don’t need it / not interested”.
So, it’s not a matter of expense, for 50% of the poorest. They just don’t care.
Free and low-cost wireless is available – I use it all the time, at the public libraries in Copley Square and in the South End. Starbucks has monthly plans costing $29.99 and $39.99. The city has also announced plans to install wireless along its “Main Streets”.
If there was a demand for wireless access, throughout the city, you can bet that a private company would have already entered the market.
That no one has, shows there is really no interest in this, beyond a few, good-intentioned, but misguided politicians.
Just stop all this talk. Please.