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The Obstacles to Free Wireless

  • February 17, 2011

by UrbanTurf Staff

The Obstacles to Free Wireless: Figure 1

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

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