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Yancey WiFi's old free WiFi idea for city housing projects

Councilor Charles Yancey (Dorchester) today proposed installing WiFi systems in BHA senior and family housing buildings to provide free Internet access to residents.

Yancey said Internet access is vital in today's world, but that residents of housing projects often cannot afford to connect.

Several years ago, then Councilor John Tobin proposed a citywide WiFi network. Mayor Menino Wified the idea, which ultimately went nowhere.

Councilor Tito Jackson praised Yancey's idea as "a no brainer."

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This is a no brainer. Fantastic idea to get people connected. The internet is a vital communication & information tool today and it is shocking how many people still don't have access to it. This is especially relevant to kids in school not having internet access at home (which is essentially required now with all the online homework/curriculum modules that kids must do).

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Internet is also essential for job hunting, applying for government services, etc.

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There has been a lot work at the federal level to get broadband treated as a utility and deem access a right over the past few years. I think this is a great step in the right direction.

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We have a right to utilities?
I pay a hefty fee for those rights.

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I'm no historian of public utilities, but I know that with electricity, water, telephone, cable TV and now internet, there have always been underserved and unserved areas, and the battle to get them service has been fought over and over again. By "service" I don't mean you get it for free, I mean the buildout to make the services available. For decades after cable TV service was widely available, there were parts of New York City where the service was simply not available, because the cable companies couldn't be arsed to make it so. Ditto every service named above in rural America.

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Right to access is correct.

However, it does go beyond that. LIHEAP is a federally funded program that states offer to assist low income families with energy costs, and there are also many other programs at individual state levels. More info here. There are also laws against utilities turning off electricity regardless of account status during certain months in "hot" states, and the same against turning off gas AND electric during certain months in "cold" states, including from Nov 15-March 15 in Mass.

Obviously internet would be managed different than electricity or heat, but the right to utility access goes beyond a cable or signal simply being present.

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And you can get internet access in the places Yancey wants to provide "free" wifi,
he just wants someone else to pay for it.
My kids would like every channel Comcast provides but I can't afford it so they deal with what we have, And Comcast offers a low income package for internet access that is minimal in speed but still works to connect to the internet, I think its $9.99 a month for 2Mbs

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It is NOT a right in the US yet. But it is in many other countries. Finland did it 5 years ago. Once again, the US falls behind much of the world thanks to lobbies and special interests. But as I said, there has been a push for making this so in the US, I never said it's there yet. It is however, classified as a utility, meaning there can and should be programs in place to ensure access for everyone. You know, like what has been proposed.

Also, I believe Mbps is what you were looking for, 2mbs would be a megabyte.

I'm sorry your kids can't have all of the channels they want. I have 220 channels, 210 of which are crap, and there are still some I would like too. But we're not even talking about cable here. Nor are we talking about giving away lightning fast speeds-Finland started at 1Mbps. We're talking about making a critical service available for free to lower income families. People who may not be able to get to other access points for a variety of reasons. While 10 bucks a month is mere morning coffee money for you and me, not everyone is so fortunate.

Complain all you want, you have every right to, but this is a good thing and I hope it lays the foundation for something bigger. If you really want something to be pissed about, it should be the sorry state of internet overall in the US compared to the rest of the world.

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People living in the places Yancey wants "free" WiFi can afford 10 dollars a month, you know it and I know it. The whole point of the program Comcast offers is to let people purchase internet access at next to nothing.
It works out to 33 cents a day. If someone can't afford 33 cents a day then internet access is the least of their problems.
Finland has one of the highest Tax rates in the word so programs like "free" internet are possible. I dont want to emulate Finland.

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Agree to disagree.

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It would still be illegal for utility companies to shut off your service from November 15 to March 15, and you would be able to apply for help, as linked at the bottom of that page, and the same goes for any state.

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I generally don't bemoan the 'welfare' class but I'd like free wifi too if it's that easy. I do think it's vital, but I do also think my comcast bill is to high with their silly bundles.

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It's a lot more complex than "Free WiFi for all!" If done right, there should be restrictions on usage just like there are on what you can use an EBT card for, and I don't know too many people who, given the choice between limited internet for free and open internet for a cost, would choose the former if they could afford the latter.

Also, this has to start somewhere, and as much as many of us hate paying out the ass for Comcast, I see no reason why those of us who can afford to should be first in line for free service. That would actually just add to the ever-growing income and class inequality issues we're facing today.

That being said, if successful, this has the potential to lay the groundwork for the broadband landscape to change for the better for everyone in the big picture.

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Municipal wifi doesn't really work -- not if people actually use it. That's the short answer.

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Paid out the nose for something that no one could use. Taken out of the taxpayers money but never worked. The program was kaput. After all the city spent on it.

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If nothing else, this is a great step to get the city to put some skin in the game with regards to internet distribution across the city. Maybe after *they* have to start dealing with Comcast, there might be some interest in monopoly busting or public fiber from city hall.

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How about the city just roll out their own high speed municipal broadband like some other cities are instead? The reason some people who live in the city can't afford internet access is because of stifling duopoly that has been allowed to exist for decades.

I agree as well that Internet access is "vital" as Yancey says but lets start curing diseases, not treating symptoms.

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Ask Matt O'Malley.

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That's fantastic news! Thanks for the heads up Adam.

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It's not that easy, and has yet to be done successfully in a large city. A better method seems to be community fiber for unserved/underserved areas.

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It has to be done right. Pol's talking technology is a lot of hot air most of the time.

As someone who does technology for a living, WiFi has to be setup right otherwise it's useless. You'll need to have restrictions on it (firewalls) and limits on speed usage. Otherwise you'll have a handful of users hogging all the bandwidth with the rest of the users slow down to a crawl. I would hope that P2P, Porn and other type websites/applications would be blocked so it is meant for what it's intended. (and of course the question looms.. who gets to decide what's blocked and what's not)

I also wonder how they plan on paying for it.. fat internet pipes are pretty pricey, plus all the hardware associated with it and the access points. And who's going to support the thing?

Not saying I am against this, but things need to be purchased, setup, and continually maintained.. and anyone lived here a while.. the city/state has a poor track record with maintaining anything for very long.

This is where a PPP would actually work very well. (hate to say it but Comcast would be a good partner for this since the infrastructure already exists in the complexes)

On a different note, if people want internet why aren't people getting "internet essentials" from Comcast? If you qualify for just about any social service (WIC, EBT, Sec8, SSDI), you qualify for Internet Essentials, and it's 10 bucks a month.

Yeah I'm aware it's not 'free' but it would off load support/startup costs onto Comcast instead of the city. (meaning the city walks away from that aspect).

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I like the $10 idea. THey should go with that then hand out vouchers or reimbursements for the fee.

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I dislike PPP's but here's a clear winner for one.

It would be far cheaper to hand out vouchers or work with Comcast to give everyone a cable modem for free.

Simple math suggests that.

10 bucks a month
x
300 Units in a complex
-----
3000/mo
x
12 months in a year
------
36,000/year for everyone in that complex to have internet essentials from Comcast.

My internet at my office (a 50mb connection from Crapstream) costs around 1200/mo.. so x 12 months is about 14k. Now 50mb would not be enough bandwidth for an entire complex, but it shows you that you're already almost half way to just giving everyone Internet Essentials for free.

36k is far cheaper than what it would to cost and maintain your own wireless infrastructure. (Consultants and Contractor costs would be in the 100's of thousands yearly). And we haven't even touched on hardware costs alone to build and maintain the network. (The switches alone will cost more than 36k for hardware that is enterprise grade, which is what you'd need to do this)

Now of course the argument against giving Internet Essentials is that it's already subsidized indirectly (Comcast is required by law to do this because of its merger a few years ago with NBC Universal.. and receives heavy tax breaks for doing so). But I am sure the city and Comcast would come up with a cost that works for both of them.

The idea of free wifi for kids and needy families is a great one, but like many ideas (IMHO) that surround technology from City Hall are half baked.

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I would hope that P2P, Porn and other type websites/applications would be blocked so it is meant for what it's intended.

This is paternalistic nonsense, not dissimilar to the regular freak-outs that occur whenever a certain type of person discovers that poor people have (gasp!) cell phones. Don't be an asshole; let them have their porn.

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Actually I'm speaking about proper usage and controlled bandwidth usage. Not so much censorship.

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"Proper usage" for whom? Why do you care what they do with their internet after they help their kids with their homework? And yeah, don't let them host a torrent server on public internet, a thing already covered by existing law.

And you're actually speaking about both.

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I think the whole point of this initiative is for the kids to be able to do their homework online. Not so their parents can get off watching porn. That's why.

And btw, just because it's the law (torrent server), doesn't mean people won't try.

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That's really not anyone's business and would be subject to negative repercussions if caught either way.

Stop treating impoverished people like criminals who need their entire life examined, whatever helps them get their life together will help them get off welfare as their are restrictions that someone doing well would not want to live under.

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It's not an either or proposition.

Do you get all hot and bothered if people buy candy with EBT money, too?

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Do you get all up in arms like this when you can't browse porn at Starbucks, Airports, or any other free public wifi? How about your work? Do you get upset over that too?

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What would that have to do with anything? Is Starbucks a governmental entity now? Can you connect to airport wifi from the privacy of your own home?

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so answer the question.

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So, won't.

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PPP? Is your computing device running out of bits for letters? Wikipedia gives us these first nine possibilities. I'm guessing you may have meant the seventh choice, but you could have splurged on 23 more characters to save people a google search followed by a head scratch.

People, Planet, Profit, the three pillars of triple bottom line cost accounting
Personal pension scheme (Personal Pension Plan), a type of UK individual pension contract
Plant Protection Product
Polluter pays principle
Prepayment penalty, sometimes assessed when a loan is paid off ahead of schedule
Progress, plans, problems, a reporting methodology
Public–private partnership, the operation of a service in the partnership of government and the private sector
Purchasing power parity, a component of some economic theories and is a technique used to determine the relative value of different currencies
Pearly penile papules, a condition that occurs on male genitalia

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was in a discussion on another thread about Public-Private Partnerships and was using the abbreviation PPP

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It's not like someone is proposing a trip to BestBuy to purchase a bunch of $49 routers and running CAT5 cable along the sprinkler pipes on a weekend.

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Look at cooperatives like Wired West. I think this is a good model. It builds a workable infrastructure by getting the local communities and customers to invest and support it.

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Enough. There is free wifi at the public libraries. This isn't free. It is another bill for the taxpayer.

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Pure and simple. He is down in the polls so he rolls out freebies.

How about lowering my property tax? I won't hold my breath.

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If you can afford cable TV, you can afford wi-fi.

I'm more afraid that, with technology moving so fast, this is done and then something else takes its place.

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After the election Chuck will have plenty of free time to teach the seniors the ways of modern technology.

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Taxpayer funded ?

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Library Hot Spot. Get FREE Wi-Fi at home with The New York Public Library’s new Library HotSpot program designed for patrons without home internet
http://hotspot.nypl.org/

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