Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Boston unveils WiFi push
Mayor Thomas M. Menino this morning said Boston will mount an effort to bring wireless Internet access to the entire city. A new task force announced today will report to Menino by mid-summer on a plan and a timetable for rolling out wireless Internet.
The task force will be co-chaired by Joyce Plotkin, president of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council; Jim Cash, a former Harvard Business School professor; and Rick Burnes, co-founder of Charles River Ventures.
"Technology should be the greatest equalizer, a community resource that gives everyone the opportunity to enhance their lives," Menino told about 260 people at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council at the Copley Marriott.
Other cities are farther along in their quest for wireless Internet access. Within the United States, San Franciso, Philadelphia, Annaheim, and Portland, Oregan are moving forward with WiFi projects.
"California will do it first," Plotkin acknowledged. "We'll do it right."
Plotkin's task force will include representatives from business, academia, city government, and community groups. While there's currently no cost estimate for the Boston project, some task force members projected that it could cost between $10 million and $20 million.
Among the technical challenges the city will face is utilizing assets such as street lights and buildings to create a wireless system. For example, it is easier to equip WiFi antenna to street lights that have individual switches than those attached to bank switches, said Steven J. Gag, the mayor's technical adviser.
Boston residents can now access WiFi in 28 public libraries and in several of the city's Main Street Districts. Plans are also underway to provide WiFi access along portions of the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
Rick Burnes is a BU MBA alum. What does this mean for Comcast, Verizon and others?
Is there any more information on this out there, or does anyone have any connections (however loose) to people making decisions? I tried going through a friend at the Department of Public Health but it seems to be a dead end.
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