Municipal Wi-Fi -- Hot or Not?
Many cities in the United States have used public funding to lay municipal wireless networks that allow anyone with a network capable device to connect to the internet. There are many advantages to offering WiFi networks to everyone including factors such as reduced costs per user, increased benefits to the public, and even potential increases in overall economic activity. Citizens can seamlessly access the internet through all their devices while on the go in covered networks. The local government can also use the availability of a wireless network for things like traffic cameras and water and parking meters which are now capable of using smart networking systems.
These networks can allow local residents or visitors to connect to work, find restaurants or retail outlets, relay important public service announcements such as emergency information or traffic conditions, and many more potential applications are perpetually being developed. Some cities have even developed creative ways of building the infrastructure for these networks as well as creative...
For example, New York City uses the cities old phone booths and converts them into hotspots; furthermore, the city also allows these spaces to be used by advertisers which helps fund the network (Alleven, 2014). This analysis will briefly outline three cities that have implemented municipal WiFi networks and compare some of the features and benefits that are offered.
New York City
New York City has developed one of the most advanced and comprehensive municipal WiFi systems in the country. The network is expected to be completed by the end of the year and consists of fast free public Wi-Fi across all five of the cities boroughs. The project is referred to as LinkNYC and replaces aging payphones with "links" which are modern hubs that offer WiFi at gigabit speed, offer free VoIP phone calls, and can also serve as a charging station for tablets and phones (Kosoff, 2014). All in all, there is estimated to be up to 10,000 "links" installed throughout the city which will also have digital displays that will serve as advertising space and generate an estimated $500 million in annual revenue. Because of the creative funding, the project will not actually cost the taxpayers anything.
With a population of just over a quarter of a million, Lincoln, Nebraska serves as an example of a small town that is also creatively deploying municipal…
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