The Obstacles to Free Wireless

by UrbanTurf Staff


Back in September and October, TBD reported on the formation of a free wireless network in the Bloomingdale neighborhood.

Today, Lydia DePillis wrote a very interesting column about the fairly complex obstacles that DC neighborhoods face in setting up free wireless networks, using Bloomingdale as a case study. Including residents’ lack of existing internet access and trouble setting up equipment, the article pointed out that an intriguing hurdle to free wireless is figuring out who is going to provide the final access bridge to bring the internet to the user:

Last year, [DC] received $17.4 million in federal stimulus money for a fiber optic network designed not for the city government but for the public at large. Such grants were sprinkled around the country as part of the Obama administration’s broadband initiative, but most are in rural areas. D.C. will be the biggest city to build its own consumer-oriented network.

The catch? The D.C. Community Access Network (DC-CAN) will be what’s called a “middle mile” network, which is just a central communications backbone. Private businesses and non-profits, from large cable companies to grassroots initiatives like Bloomingdale’s Broadband Bridge, are supposed to provide the “last mile,” which brings the Internet to consumers.

DePilis notes that the big boys (Verizon and Comcast) have not expressed interest in providing this final step, so in order for free wireless to become a reality, smaller companies will need to step in. Read the full article here.

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_obstacles_to_free_wireless/3011

1 Comment

  1. How'bout Howard? said at 6:32 pm on Thursday February 17, 2011:

    I wonder if they could get Howard University to step in to the final step without stepping on anybody’s toes…I’m sure they have lots of staff, faculty, and students living there and then they could extend it to other neighbors as compensation for our loss of sleep and time spent cleaning up the streets of red plastic cups after off campus parties.

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