Push for free citywide Wi-Fi in San Antonio, Texas

Free citywide Wi-Fi in San Antonio (Texas), headquarters of SBC Communications? According to an article by Laura Lorek in the San Antonio Express, Urban 15 (a nonprofit) is working with WiFi-Sa.com and Salsa.net to get free or low-cost Internet access to some of the city’s poorer residents. They are also talking to municipal officials about offering free access points throughoutFree citywide Wi-Fi in San Antonio (Texas), headquarters of SBC Communications? According to an article by Laura Lorek in the San Antonio Express, Urban 15 (a nonprofit) is working with WiFi-Sa.com and Salsa.net to get free or low-cost Internet access to some of the city’s poorer residents. They are also talking to municipal officials about offering free access points throughout the city.

But SBC hates the plan. The article says: “While SBC is not opposed to cities providing Wi-Fi to public places such as city libraries or parks, spokesman Gene Acu?¬±a said the company doesn’t approve of ubiquitous free wireless access.” Yes, that’s right. In SBC’s universe, people must first get SBC’s approval before rolling out these networks. Doesn’t this sound like Verizon’s temper tantrum when four West Virginia state senators dared to introduce a pro-municipal broadband bill without first getting Verizon’s approval?

Another quote from SBC in the San Antonio Express article: “When a city seeks to provide such information services like Wi-Fi to nonpublic places in direct competition with the private sector, then we have some real concerns,” he said. Except here, of course, it does not look like the city itself will be providing Wi-Fi, rather it’s a private initiative with some city support.

And now for something totally predictable: Laura Lorek, the author of this article, called the NMRC’s director, Allen Hepner (you recall the NMRC’s anti-municipal broadband paper masquerading as independent research), but he hung up on her! If you have been reading Muniwireless, you know that Glenn Fleishman and Carol Ellison (EWeek) have exposed NMRC as an offshoot of Issue Dynamics, a consulting firm that has done work for SBC and Verizon.

*****COMMENTS*****

Posted by: EJ Preston, VP of SalsaNet

I’m the VP of SalsaNet, featured in the article and photos in SA Express-News. I need to make it VERY clear to you and all readers that SalsaNet is NOT advocating municipal sponsored WiFi Networks, not AT ALL. That’s just another inflation of the Bureaucracy, which none of us need here in San Antonio… 😉

However, we ARE advocating wifi developments, both fee-based AND free, in general. We support all of SBC’s efforts to do the same, and give them HUGE KUDOS for the work they’ve done with Broadband and Fiber connectivity. We ALSO support free, community-based endeavors like Urban 15’s free development. This is in a special neighborhood with special needs.

SalsaNet endorses ALL successful models in wireless networks and proliferation of WiFi. We recognize the sense in fee-based connections in some places, free in others. We recognize that the City of San Antonio needs to unwire its public buildings, but NOT make that network available to consumers. Same with Bexar County’s EOC/911 operation… they are developing a wireless network that is CLOSED to the public, for obvious security and usability reasons (same with the City).

The major Telecomms are NOT the enemy here, all you MuniWireless folks… they simply need to be educated and enlightened as to how they can make profit AND offer free access (like ad-sponsored portals). Remember also that they are responsible to shareholders at the end of the day, same as we are to our families and children, to put “food on the table”.

We should ALL be working WITH the major Telecomms, offering our intellectual capitol and market-savvy to these lumbering beasts, who simply need a little help now and then. Thank you for making sure that this coverage is fair and evenly balanced.

Best Regards,
Ed
EJ Preston
VP – SalsaNet, South Central Texas ISOC

*****

Comments

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