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Debating Municipal Wi-Fi

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Debating Municipal Wi-Fi
2. Today's Top Story
    - Tech Workers Think Jobs Outlook Is Brighter, Says Survey
3. Breaking News
    - 'Star Trek' Spoof Gaining Internet Fame
    - Apple Expected to Unveil Video IPod Next Week
    - Firefox Marketing Site Hacked, Offline Again
    - A Guide To Desktop Security Products And Services
    - States Hope To Tax Online Sales
    - Steve Case's 'Revolution' Acquires Health And Tech Companies To Flesh Out Consumer Offerings
    - Vulnerability Spotted In Symantec AntiVirus Scan Engine
    - CA Plans Aggressive Expansion In Telecommunications
    - Europe Willing To Pay To Get Science On Air
    - EarthLink Unveils Security Tools
    - How To Upgrade From Windows 2000 To Windows XP
    - First Citywide Broadband-Over-Powerline Site Inaugurated
    - Oracle's 8.9 Leap To Fusion
4. In Depth: Wireless
5. Voice Of Authority: Systems Diagnostics
6. White Papers: SOA
7. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
8. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time." -- Steven Wright


1. Editor's Note: Debating Municipal Wi-Fi

In the classic war between the pro-government Left and the pro-free-market Right, I'm a member of both camps. Governments are good at providing some services, such as national defense, police, and enforcing building and health codes.

On the other hand, free-market capitalism has been a driver of most of the material benefits we enjoy today. Free-market capitalism has provided us with everything from health care to indoor plumbing.

It also brought us movies starring Rob Schneider. Nobody said the free market is perfect.

Then there are other categories of services that are sometimes provided by government and sometimes by the private sector. These include building roads, collecting trash, and even generating electricity.

And there are still other services that are provided by public-private partnerships. The classic example of that is the Internet itself: developed by government research, made powerful, essential, and almost ubiquitous by private industry.

Which side should wireless Internet access fall on? Should private industry provide public wireless connectivity, should it be government, or should there be a partnership between both?

I don't know the answer to that one. Nobody does. That's why I'm encouraged to see cities like San Francisco and Philadelphia experiment with setting up municipal Wi-Fi. (Manassas, Va., went another route in providing Internet access, launching a citywide broadband-over-powerline network yesterday.)

And I'm also happy to see other cities--like, say, the one I live in, lovely La Mesa, Calif., the "Jewel of the Hills"--do nothing at all in that direction.

Let's let local governments everywhere around the country decide for themselves if they want to provide municipal Wi-Fi. Let's see how that works out.

Some state and federal governments don't see it that way. As my colleague Johanna Ambrosio points out in an opinion column, governors in Virginia and Pennsylvania signed bills restricting their own cities from building Wi-Fi networks. U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, introduced a bill preventing localities from offering telecom services except in places where services aren't already available. Read Johanna's piece for more details on how this national debate is playing out.

Ironically, I'm actually an opponent of municipal Wi-Fi. I don't see it as solving any problem that government needs to get involved in. Proponents of municipal Wi-Fi argue that they're trying to close the "digital divide" separating the rich from the poor. I'm not so concerned about the digital divide, I'm more concerned about the "not-having-to-live-in-a-neighborhood-filled-with-crystal-meth-ad dicts divide" and the "not-dropping-dead-of-a-disease-we've-known-how-to-cure-for-years divide."

Still, I could be wrong. Let's collect information for a few years on how these experiments in municipal Wi-Fi work out. Then let's reconvene and see if we can come to any conclusions on whether the public, private, or hybrid approach is better.

I figure 10 years should be enough time to make an intelligent decision on whether governments should be banned from the wireless Internet service provider business. I've set aside some time on my calendar for Oct. 6, 2015, to discuss the issue. Be there; I'll bring the bagels and cream cheese.

Mitch Wagner
mwagner@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Tech Workers Think Jobs Outlook Is Brighter, Says Survey
IT and telecom professionals were considerably more optimistic about their jobs in September than workers in most other sectors, according to a new survey of more than 9,400 employees in several industries.


3. Breaking News

'Star Trek' Spoof Gaining Internet Fame
"Star Wreck: In The Pikinning" took seven years to make on equipment in the living room of one of the Finnish filmmakers.

Apple Expected To Unveil Video IPod Next Week
Analysts and bloggers are convinced it's coming. But they've been wrong before.

Firefox Marketing Site Hacked, Offline Again
SpreadFirefox.com will be offline for about 10 days, after its second attack in three months.

A Guide To Desktop Security Products And Services
Don't know which anti-spyware application to buy? Confused about which security suite is best? Here's some help.

States Hope To Tax Online Sales
Eighteen states representing a fifth of the U.S. population are allied to collect voluntary sales tax on Internet purchases.

Steve Case's Revolution Acquires Health And Tech Companies To Flesh Out Consumer Offerings
Revolution Health Group has acquired several startup firms and has made equity investments in others as part of a plan to unleash a new consumer-oriented health portal and other services next year.

Vulnerability Spotted In Symantec AntiVirus Scan Engine
The company has produced patches for the flaw, which could let attackers slip their malicious code onto a system.

CA Plans Aggressive Expansion In Telecommunications
Computer Associates has formed a new organization and revealed a strategy to expand its telecommunications business.

Europe Willing To Pay To Get Science On Air
The European Union has set aside around $1.9 million to help encourage television stations and radio producers to increase their science-related programming.

EarthLink Unveils Security Tools
The tools for subscribers include antivirus, spyware blocker, and a firewall.

How To Upgrade From Windows 2000 To Windows XP
It's time for companies to upgrade those last PCs still running Windows 2000. Here's how.

First Citywide Broadband-Over-Powerline Site Inaugurated
The network, which debuted in Manassas, Va., covers a 10-square-mile area and is available at about $29 a month.

Oracle's 8.9 Leap To Fusion
The new release of PeopleSoft applications is aimed at keeping PeopleSoft users in Oracle's camp.

All our latest news


----- The latest research, polls, and tools -----

A Week's Worth Of Dailies--All In One Place
Have you missed an issue or two of the InformationWeek Daily? Or want to check out some recent quotes of the day? Check out our all-new Daily newsletter archive page and get caught up quickly.

Customer Focus
Companies continue to invest considerable dollars to build out CRM processes. Enhancing The Customer Experience, an Optimize executive research report, documents how businesses are using technology to improve customer service and justify IT investment.

-----------------------------------------


4. In Depth: Wireless

Tests Start For First Certified WiMax Products
With several WiMax firms crowding the starting gate for formal introduction of the wide area wireless technology, equipment from at least five firms is being evaluated by the WiMax Forum's Cetecom Labs in Spain.

Dissatisfaction With Wireless Purchases Grows: Survey
This represents a serious threat to cellular operators because 20% of the consumers who said they were dissatisfied also said they will switch carriers because of the experience.

EarthLink Wins Philadelphia Wi-Fi Bid
The citywide network will be finished in about a year, according to Philadelphia's CIO.

Geek Cavalries Turn Post-Katrina Landscape Into Wireless Lab
Volunteers quickly helped connect devastated areas to the outside world, proving the worth of VoIP and Wi-Fi to help re-establish communications in the aftermath of an emergency.

PriceGrabber.com Launches Mobile-Phone Comparison Service
Online shoppers can look at phones and plans from multiple carriers based on preferences for monthly minutes, monthly cost, and available phones.


5. Voice Of Authority: Systems Diagnostics

Podcast: Time-Saving App
Eric Chabrow caught up with Brian Cantrill, the 31-year-old Sun Microsystems developer who won a Young Technology Innovators award for his work creating real-time diagnostics tools for software administrators. Listen to the excitement in Cantrill's voice as he describes his work.


6. White Papers: SOA

Insights On SOA Readiness And Adoption From 1,100 Leading Enterprises
This paper explores how leading enterprises view service-oriented architectures and where they stand on implementing an SOA architecture and infrastructure. It also presents BEA Systems' domain model for SOA success, discusses the need for a service infrastructure, and offers a few brief suggestions for getting your SOA initiative off to a fast start.


7. Get More Out Of InformationWeek

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