SXSW: Future of Wireless Networks panel

Here are notes I took from the Future of Broadband Wireless Networks: Public or Private? panel that interested me this morning at SXSW. I’m exploring the idea of how this could happen in San Francisco, specifically to provide Internet access (and computers) to underserved/poor communities in the city.

Future of Broadband Wireless Networks: Public or Private?

Glenn Fleichman
– not strictly pro incumbant or pro municpal
– believes any local municipality should be able to decide for themselves
-sock puppets: …
-restrictive bill in Texas right now
– Tacoma: Tacoma built their own network because the private incumbant wouldn’t upgrade the network in the city
– govt should be a tool to spur private industry
-build a public interest lobbying group to counter the incumbant lobbysts. telco lobbyists are anti-democratic.

Esme Vos
– – site cobbles together reports from cities from all arond the world (111 so far)
– san mateo has mesh network for cops
– anti-municipal broadband bills: Pennsylvania – Verizon backed bill that stops cities from rollong out muni networks w/o their chance to offer first. Philly got a waiver causse they were already doing it.
– Texas: same thing happeing.
– in the EU: really ahead in opening up markets to competition. in the US, public networks could spur competition with private. publc players don’t want to play nice.
– Verizon: put out FUD document, hoping media won’t counter/question misinformation
– challenging incumbant FUD: most legilslators spend time with lobbyists and don’t know better. don’t know there are muni networks in cities across the world.
– 20+ states have passed telco protection bills. a few have died in committee.

Rich MacKinnon
– Austin Wireless City Project
– built lan to counter potentially illegality of network which is happening
– 100 hotspots, 70 private, 30 city-owned
– each venue has to pay for their own gear and “freight” (delivery)
– Texas HB789: antiwireless, antiinnovation, anticompetition, antidemocratic, antisocial, antifamily. a give away that protects the duopoly.
– a healthy free market needs to provide services to those who need it. if they don’t, public should come in and fill the gap.
– local govt provides busses. they compete w/private taxis.
– public school competes with private schools
– govt bult the roads, which is a network
– Dell and other companies are backing the freewifi campaign to defeat HB789 because they don’t want competition stifled

David Isenberg.
– conference: Freedom to Connect
– the network is stupid, which is what we want
– smart is at the edge
– we should be getting hundreds of megabits for much cheaper. in japan it’s about $30.
– phone companies will not bring us the network of the future because:
1. ??
2. old telco biz models are broken
3. telcos are focued on the next quarter, always patching problems rather than investing in new networks
4. ??
5. telco/cable companies will resist canablizaing themselves
6. 80/20 rule – 20% of customers generate 80% of profits
– phone telcos/cable will build the network of the future because otherwise they will die

Jason Sabbo – local blogger who watches Austin hearings, needs help.

Cliff Skolnick notes that the best public services are usually provided to rich parts of town or where the voters are. be careful of that when providing muni wireless.


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