Correction for "Google Sponsors Bryant Park Wi-Fi" Story

To whom it may concern at the Heartland Institute,

In your story, “Google Sponsors Bryant Park Wi-Fi”, published in the November issue of IT&T News, Mr. Steven Titch makes a number of factual mistakes.

Specifically, NYCwireless (the correct name and spelling for our organization) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed and run by volunteers from the New York City metropolitan area. We have never had any affiliation with the New York City government, nor were we formed by the city. We are a wholly independent organization.

In addition, Bryant Park is a privately operated and funded park. The Bryant Park Restoration Corporation has received a license from the NYC Parks Department to run the park, and its operations are wholly independent from any involvement and policy of the NYC Parks Department. The NYC Parks Department, and indeed the entire NYC government, has never had any involvement in the creation, operation, or funding of any of the dozens of free, public wireless hotspots built by or in conjunction with NYCwireless, including Bryant Park, Union Square Park, City Hall Park, and South Street Seaport, to name a few.

Your conclusion that “Bryant Park offers more evidence that cities cannot operate free Wi-Fi networks” is specious and groundless at best.

I appreciate your posting a correction to the errors noted above.

Dana Spiegel
Executive Director, NYCwireless

NYCwireless October Meeting, Wednesday Oct. 26th!

This Wednesday, October 26th, 2005 at 7:15pm

Bway.net – in new home (finally!):
568 Broadway at Prince St, NE corner
Suite 404
New York, NY 10012

(Please note: Bway.net’s offices are still under construction — we apologize in advance for our appearance. Also, everybody will need to sign-in in the lobby.)

Agenda:

  1. Cybermoor: Community Wireless Broadband Network from Rural Northern England; presentation by Daniel Heery
  2. Laura Forlano will brief us on World Summit for a Free Information Infrastructure conference held earlier this month in London.
  3. WifiDog: Rob Kelley will distribute WifiDogs to anyone who brings us a Linksys WRT54G — version 4 or earlier — (please let Rob know ahead of time if you’re bringing one rob at nycwireless.net)

Cybermoor: presentation by Daniel Heery, Project Manager for Cybermoor.

Cybermoor is run as a Community Co-operative and is a non-profit making community enterprise. Daniel Heery will discuss how this was accomplished. More (Moor?) details:
http://www.cybermoor.org/
http://www.seeonline2.net/broadband/CommunitySelfHelp/CaseStudies/AlstonCybermoor/

The End-User Cost of Muni-networks

Also published on the Wireless Community blog

I’m a big fan of what’s going on in Philadelphia, but this article in The Philadelphia Inquirer has me thinking that maybe all of this talk about the end user cost of muni-networks is, in part, wrong.

One way that most Community Wireless networks are different from other broadband networks is that they view their wireless service as supplemental. In other words, NYCwireless wouldn’t ever expect to be the only Internet service that a person uses. This is true for most CWNs, expecially those in urban places.

As such, our pricing models expect that usage of the networks is an add on to a user’s already expensive broadband connection. This is one way that commercial Wi-Fi is different, and why so many people are unhappy about the high prices. Is the $30 per month (or thereabout) price of a T-Mobile Wi-Fi a supplemental service fee, or is it a primary broadband connection fee?

I already pay over $100 per month for my DSL at home. I’m not going to pay another $20 or $30 per month just to get Wi-Fi periodically. And neither are most other people (discount the road-warrior types who’s businesses pay for their supplemental internet fees).

We need a more sophisticated pricing model. And this is what bothers me about the Philadelphia prices. The Philly network imagines that it is the primary broadband connection for people living in the city. But what about all of the people who already have $40-$60 home DSL and cablemodems? Wireless Philadelphia should make sense for them as well, except they won’t really use it at home, just when they are away from home.

I think this is critical for the project’s success. What is the right price for supplemental Internet? I personally would pay about $5 total for all other broadband I would use outside of my home. I suspect that this pricing is about what other people would be willing to pay as well. This type of pricing model respects existing broadband service, and offers the opportunity for Philadelphia to capture more of the market. It also acknowledges that one company/organization can’t solve the universal broadband issue by itself.

Who says that I should only have 1 broadband connection? Telcos, cable companies, WISPs, and any other broadband provider must embrace this view of the market, because its the way things will be in the future.