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City Seeks Wifi Partner


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ov. 15, 2005, 7:53AM


City seeking network partner

Mayor wants company proposals to build citywide communications system


Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

The city of Houston will begin looking in March for a company to not only build a wireless Internet network that blankets downtown, but for that business to pay for it as well.

By having a private company behind the project, Houston Mayor Bill White believes he can avoid some of the battle cries from telecommunications companies opposed to municipal WiFi.

White said no tax dollars would be used to create a broadband wireless network. Instead, the city will issue a request for proposals seeking a company to build and operate it.

In turn, city government would have free access to a variety of broadband applications, like enhanced communications, a high-tech parking meter system and increased telecommuting for city workers.

It could also mean increased Internet access for low-income residents.

The company using Houston's many easements and right of ways for WiFi antennas and other equipment would then be able to sell its airtime to residents and businesses.

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I would get a bit more excited about this, but it appears to be a copout to big business. Does anyone think that this would cost less than $4 to $5 per hour? Ever looked at the prices for Wi-Fi at Minute Maid? The only upside for taxpayers is, theoretically, the city gets to use it for free.

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