St. Louis mayor wants ATT to unwire the city: where’s the public tender?

Several people emailed me this week telling me that the Mayor of St. Louis (Missouri) wants the city to enter into a contract with AT&T for a citywide Wi-Fi network. There is no public tender process, just a request to Alderman Matt Villa to introduce a bill enabling the AT&T-St. Louis deal. Several people emailed me this week telling me that the Mayor of St. Louis (Missouri) wants the city to enter into a contract with AT&T for a citywide Wi-Fi network. There is no public tender process, just a request to Alderman Matt Villa to introduce a bill enabling the AT&T-St. Louis deal.

Doesn’t anyone else think this is strange? I have not seen anything remotely resembling a public consultation process or even a study commissioned by the city on this subject. Why AT&T? Why have they not solicited responses from MetroFi, EarthLink and local ISPs? Why is the city handing over their network to an incumbent?

If anyone knows more about this, please post your comments below.

Comments

  1. The ampersand in this title of this article is breaking your RSS feed.

  2. This project in Saint Louis is one of two government-initiated wi-fi projects. The City of Saint Louis is enveloped by Saint Louis County. The county is currently pursuing a network via a consultative process; they city is not – at least not yet.

    It is only strange if you are not familiar with Saint Louis government, which has had a long and storied history struggling with the charter between city and county.

    The county wi-fi project is perhaps more reflective of current thinking in the industry; the county also serves a considerably larger population than the city proper.

  3. Here’s a clarification that AT&T sent me today:

    AT&T has proposed building a wireless Internet broadband access network in the City of St. Louis that would enable multiple wireless broadband access options, including free access options, using our AT&T Metro Wi-Fi solution. The Wi-Fi network would also support a range of business data services and could be used to support municipal government operations in the future as well.

    An ordinance outlining this non-exclusive proposal was introduced to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday, Feb. 2, and is scheduled for review by the board’s Public Utilities Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

    We are encouraged that the city recognizes the value AT&T Metro Wi-Fi would bring to residents, businesses and visitors, and we commend Mayor Slay for his technology vision and leadership.

    AT&T is fully committed to delivering the benefits of broadband access service options as widely as possible. We look forward to working with the City of St. Louis to determine the possibilities of this citywide Wi-Fi network in the coming months. Wi-Fi systems provide another Internet broadband access capability to residents and businesses, offer a new level of broadband mobility, and enable Internet access to visitors.

    Regarding your specific questions on the nature of the proposal, it is important to note that the AT&T proposal is non-exclusive. Essentially, the proposal calls for the city to provide AT&T access to city light poles for the placement of Wi-Fi equipment. From there, AT&T would build and manage the network. As a non-exclusive agreement, the city is open to discuss similar agreements with other providers.