Of course, the non-naysayers still have negative things to say. Take Frank Rizzo, who has swung as wildly at this project as Pat Burrell at an outside slider. First, Rizzo compared our little Wi-Fi program to Boston's nororious "big dig," in of the better overstatements I have seen in a while. Then, when it turns out the City has come up with foundation grants to pay for a lot of the cost, Rizzo simply said, "They wont last forever!" Next he will invoke 9/11 or something.
From the article:
Neff said the city would serve as an "anchor tenant" for the wireless network, using it to enable meter readers, building inspectors, and other city workers in the field to access or input crucial data. The city also will provide light-post access for the network's hardware.Here is what this whole thing is about: Vision. You want to talk about a positive vision for the City, how about this one? I know Intel and the like are fronting some money for the project because in the end, the more computer savvy, internet ready people, the better for them. Well, on that note, how about getting some of our numerous foundation folks together with Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Gateway, etc, and propose a plan that Philly become a totally digital city, where every poor kid in the entire City has a computer in their home? Can you imagine the difference it would make, in a City where something like 40 percent of us are not online? And, given that you can equip someone with an decent, internet ready computer for 3 or 4 hundred dollars, it is feasible. Who knows, we may find that the next Bill Gates is actually sitting in a rowhome in South Philly, waiting for someone to give him or her some basic tools to succeed.
No city funds are to be used for the network, which will cost $10 million to build. Neff said Wireless Philadelphia would tap foundation grants, low-interest bank loans, and taxable bonds.
Some proceeds are to go to training programs for people who don't know how to use computers.
City Council member Frank Rizzo, the chief local critic of the plan, said he still suspected that taxpayers would end up footing the bill for wireless access. "Foundation grants aren't forever," he said.
A poll commissioned last month by a cable industry trade group also found that Philadelphians rated city wireless access a far lower priority than crime or schools. The poll also found doubts about administration assertions that the initiative would boost the city's standing in the global digital economy.
But others, such as Intel Corp., maker of computer chips, and Staples Inc., the office-supply company, have lauded the effort. Both corporations are both providing free assistance to Philadelphia's wireless effort.
Despite the voices of doubt, speakers at the kickoff press conference appeared particularly pleased by the effect on the city's low-tech reputation.
"I have not seen an initiative gain more immediate positive attention for the city, both internationally and nationally, [than] this one," said Ed Schwartz, a former City Council member who served on the wireless executive committee that crafted the plan.
A longtime technology advocate, Schwartz runs a nonprofit organization that has a $150,000 contract with the city to maintain a Web site about city neighborhoods.
And for 20 dollars or less a month, I will be signing up myself.