Weighing In on Municipal Wireless

By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2005-01-07 Print this article Print

Opinion: Kutztown, Pa., thought it was helping private companies set up broadband and wireless services in its market. But a new law could place its future in the hands of providers that previously were not eager to serve it.

Somewhere between politics and protests, practical solutions usually can be found. Those who prefer practicality to rhetoric can often avoid the slings and arrows of political fortune and chart their own course to a desired end. My request for responses to my column on how a controversial Pennsylvania law will impact municipal wireless turned up one such solution in Kutztown, Pa. The missive from Kutztowns IT director was the first in what became a strong majority of reader responses that strongly favored municipalities rights to provide connectivity services to their residents, without first submitting them to the veto of the big broadband companies they would compete with.
They thought the obstacles that Pennsylvanias House Bill 30 (now law) places on wireless services—actually, on all of broadband—are too many, are too high, and play too much into the hands of monopolies to be palatable.
Still others echoed the keep-government-out-of-business argument that brought about HB30. In between, there were folks who liked the idea of municipal wireless but worried about its implementation and about markets where muni-wireless would replace private carriers, rather than add to the competitive landscape. (Stay tuned for a more detailed report on reader responses from both sides.) Then, there was the missive from Frank Caruso, director of information for the borough of Kutztown, Pa. Next page: A model in the municipal wireless debate.

Carol Ellison is editor of eWEEK.com's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

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