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Do you think there needs to be countywide Wi-Fi service in Douglas County?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on July 19, 2006

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Photo of Kelly Brown

“Sure, why not? With all the students, it would be great.”

Photo of Tim Hjersted

“Yes, because availability of information should be free to all people. Making it free creates greater equality in our society, and that’s good for everybody.”

Photo of Kyle Dorsey

“I think it would help out the community if there were wireless access everywhere.”

Photo of Chelsey Smith

“I think that’s always a good idea, especially in a college town. I think it would increase business for a lot of places if people could have free access wherever they go.”

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jonas 11 years, 9 months ago

uhhh. . . .who's going to pay for it?

Linda Aikins 11 years, 9 months ago

I like Tim's answer. That way we could compete with the upstanding rich folks. (see Alvamar thread)

Jayhawk226 11 years, 9 months ago

Chicago is in the process of becoming the first city in the country, particularly at its size, to provide city-wide WiFi to anybody and everybody for free. Should be up-and-running in the next year.

They cut a deal with several companies to sponsor this and make it free to all, which I will have to cite at a later post when I'm not so tired to research the company.

Jayhawk226 11 years, 9 months ago

Chicago taking proposals for Wi-Fi network (Crain's) - Mayor Richard M. Daley announced Tuesday that the city will begin taking requests for proposals in turning Chicago into a wireless community.

The Mayor is seeking submissions from private-sector firms that would provide Internet access throughout the city, including free wireless service in Chicago public schools, parks and other public places. The city would allow providers use of its infrastructure, such as street lights and lamp poles, to help in constructing the wireless broadband network.

"In technology, as in too many other areas of our society, there's a wide gap between the haves and have-nots," Mayor Daley said at a Tuesday news conference. "It's known as the digital divide and the people on the wrong side of the divide generally have lower incomes and less education."

Mayor Daley offered $250,000 in grants to help community groups find solutions to provide computers and Internet services to neighborhoods unable to afford the expense and he appointed an advisory panel to oversee the task. Julia Stasch, vice-president of the program on human and community development of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will chair the advisory panel.

Chicago already offers free wireless Internet access throughout its public library systems as well as at Millennium Park, the Cultural Center and Daley Plaza.

Sounds pretty simple to me...just have other people invest in your community. If it's that great of an area, others will recognize the potential for sure.

Nikki May 11 years, 9 months ago

Well, I don't get it. It sounds like someone (presumably the city - thus tax payers) is going to pay for everyone to get wireless internet. But, you'd have to have an account or something right? I guess the whole thing is beyond me. Nevermind.

Ceallach 11 years, 9 months ago

Not if the $95M comes from DG county taxpayers.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 9 months ago

The wireless providers are businesses. They will be seeking a profitable arrangement, not a charitable one. Internet is never actually free.

Various counties in my area have been talking up the countywide wireless service idea; my county wants to have it up and running by next year (they're calling it the Wireless Washtenaw Initiative, I think). Last I knew, my county is planning on offering two options: a slower free service (probably with more advertising or something, too), and a faster pay service.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like a good time to buy stock in a wireless device company.

killjoy 11 years, 9 months ago

No, I have it where I need it and don't have a desire to pay for it elsewhere

sgtwolverine 11 years, 9 months ago

Hey, maybe they should make water and electricity "free" to everyone, too. I mean, if we're promoting equality through free services and all.

blessed3x 11 years, 9 months ago

Oh I absolutely think the entire county should get WiFi access. But PLEASE make certain to raise taxes enough to cover any additional costs. We don't want to run out of money with the job only half completed. I also feel that the county should distributed laptops to the homeless so they can have this wonderful tool at their disposal. Shoot, maybe they should give all of us laptops. about fixing infrastructure and worrying about important issues first, like banning trans fats from our fries. Or better yet ban fries.

Lawrence...gotta love it.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 9 months ago

Maybe they should make it easier for local Wi-Fi providers to win bids, too.

Also, countywide Wi-Fi might help bring in a professional soccer team.

jayhawks71 11 years, 9 months ago

Targeted ads would pay for such a system if done correctly; there would be a log-in to curb illegal behavior (note: I said curb, not stop); ads would be tailored to location as well and that is the way that businesses would profit and actually help to fund the system. Google will be the likely provider.

I doubt the entire of Douglas County (read: sparsely populated areas) would be covered. It would not be cost effective for a provider to do this. Tax dollars should NOT be used to subsidize such a thing.

I bet Sunflower will be lobbying hard against this, unless they get to be the provider.... and get paid for it (which of course they should), but not with tax dollars.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 9 months ago

Does the existing free wifi have any effect on radio airwaves? Seems that since the city popped that one on us, am radio interference has greatly increased.

"KU researchers win grant to study radio frequency spectrum Monday, November 24, 2003"

Three year study, results are about due. Maybe the county should wait for them.

What plans will the county have to assure that no personal wifi info will be stolen? We all know that could be a problem.

craigers 11 years, 9 months ago

Like Ceallach said above, not if we all have to pay the $95M.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 9 months ago

If they tried to blanket rural areas with short-range wi-fi ... wow. I would be amazed.

What they're doing here isn't the short-range open access wireless, but the longer-range wireless that requires a receiver on the house to receive and transmit back to the water tower. They're installing it at my house tomorrow or Friday.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 9 months ago

Why should it be totally free? I'd go for the idea of it being free, when internet access to everyone in their own homes becomes free as well.

Otherwise, it's not really fair now, is it?

And isn't WiFi notorious for being hacked?

sgtwolverine 11 years, 9 months ago

I just noticed there are four "yes" answers. How would these answers change if the question had been, "Would you pay for countywide wireless?" Or what would they have said if the question had been "How much would you pay for countywide wireless?"

Fangorn 11 years, 9 months ago

sgt: Excellent point. And that's the real question anyway. Or, since taxes are already high, how about asking: What other county-provided services would you be willing to curtail or give up entirely so Douglas County could provide county-wide WiFi?

Oldenuf: "Joe-Communist-Manifesto-I'll-never-leave-college-due-to-my-need-to-avoid-paying-my-student-loans". LOL! :))

Fangorn 11 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

RI, maybe you could get a direct line of sight to a neighbor that has DSL. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Oh, I kill myself! (Is that a chainsaw I hear?)

I predict that the cultural activist already knows every coffe shop in town that has Wi-Fi. C'mon, for the price of a cup of coffee, you can sit in a smoke free environment and surf 'til your heart's conent. Of course, with the price of coffee, that could get pretty expensive. I recommend staying away from the custom made drinks and just getting a cup o' joe. Old fashioned. Yes, you can fill your own cup. Even you, joe activist. Unless, of course, your next cause is "speaking out for those who can't afford a latte."

Jayhawk226 11 years, 9 months ago


I think you're right about a few other cities, but it's not available city-wide and free for all the residents.

Chicago will be the first to provide WiFi free to everybody, but they're still waiting to see which company provides the best bid to cover all the costs.

By this fall, WiFi and cell phone coverage will be available in the subways of the L too. I believe we'll be the first to provide that option too.

Mayor Daley is hoping this makes Chicago that much more marketable. Heck, with all the darn skyscrapers we have going up each week, plenty of room to put the WiFi antennas.

If a city of 2.9 million people can find a way to do it through corporate sponsorship, I wish an enlightened town of 100,000 (when the college kids are in town) can do it. It'd be good for Lawrence. After all, Money Magazine did rank Lawrence as a "smart city" again.

Jayhawk226 11 years, 9 months ago

Welcome the Information Age, global technological world macon47.

Though many do not believe in evolution, and may not agree with the tech age innundating every sector of our lives...our times have changed and our society has evolved.

And to compete, or keep up, or last stay informed...I welcome these opportunities.

Jayhawk226 11 years, 9 months ago

TOB--I've read your posts many times, but not sure what part of the country you're in now...I keep wanting to say Houston?

ktmracr 11 years, 9 months ago

Chicago "will be the first city"? Oh wait, as soon as they "see which company provides the best bid to cover all the costs". What incentive does a business that is supposed to make money have to do this?

Sounds great on the surface (politically for the Mayor). I don't see how it will happen with out taxpayers footing the bill. I wouldn't hold your breath...

These "Man on the street" interviews crack me up. Ask a stupid question to people walking the street while others are hard at work and get a stupid answer. "cultural activist". LOL!!!!!

Jayhawk226 11 years, 9 months ago

When da mayor wants his way, he gets his way.

Private sponsorship, which amounts to political assistance down the road, is how Chicago was founded and has etched itself as a Great city.



OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

Did I use profanity or ethnic slurs in my post? Who removed it, and why?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

Oh... I did say something about the guy calling himself a cultural activist and how that was really just a code word for "unemployed bongo player". I also may have said that until he get's a job and starts paying taxes, no one is really going to care what he thinks the rest of us should spend OUR tax money on. I said something along those lines. I might have slandered him further by implying that he's stuck in college because he's hoping to avoid paying back his student loans for as long as he can.

But, I never said anything (ANYTHING!) about how he looks just like every other poser with that silly little beard. I never said that. That would be mean, so I didn't say it.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

Hmmm. I guess I can pretty much say goodbye to that post, too.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

I also said that Kyle, the shipping clerk, was a real man, like the guys in the Budwiser/Hardee's commercials who work on their own cars in their driveways. How, unlike the activist, he just gave a simple answer AND has a real job, so his opinions matter.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 9 months ago

I can't be sure about the yogurt slinger part, but I'm pretty sure he didn't call anyone purple-headed. That would be way over the top.

OldEnuf, that's called a you-missed-a-spot beard.

craigers 11 years, 9 months ago

I think the staff just pulls comments to show us who is in charge here.

thomgreen 11 years, 9 months ago

OldEnuf So, if we do reverse logic, or inverse logic, or whatever you want to call it, and since your answer is not simple, how do we rate your opinion? j/k

I agree with you about Kyle.

Ceallach 11 years, 9 months ago

omg -- fangorn and oldenuf both removed!! Maybe that is one of the goals of a cultural activist, removing any comments questioning their field of endeavor :) not that anyone knows what that is!

I'm still not in favor county-wide Wi-Fi (such a cute little name, sounds so harmless!!). I've been around here long enough to know that the tax payers of this county will be stuck with the bill. If my taxes go up much more -- oh nevermind, too depressing to go into the possibilities.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

Ahhh, but you forget: I work for a living. Yes, I'm danged proud of that. I don't pretend to contribute by assigning myself a label like "cultural activist". I actually contribute.

I also remember an OTS dude who called himself a "performance artist & DJ". Oh, please.

Another reason for my "not simple" answer: I love to hear myself type. I think I'm the [word Bush used].


Linda Aikins 11 years, 9 months ago

I'm guessing we shouldn't make fun of the people on the street or they won't be able to get anyone to do it???

No one has guts anymore, purple or not.

armyguy 11 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like a better plan than building a new libary. It would cost about the same.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

RI, If your lucky neighbor's house was unlucky enough to be "all electric," I think they'd notice the extra $200 tacked onto the bill and cut you off!

If you want free Wi-Fi, just go hang out at MCI airport. In Minneapolis' airport, however, it will cost you about $7 a day (how unfriendly). San Fran is just so freakin' congested that you can sneeze and the droplets will land within range of yet another non-secured Wi-Fi site. OK, I just grossed myself out. I'm going to go take a purell shower.

jayhawks71 11 years, 9 months ago

First, the notion that you have to "carry your laptop" to use wif-fi is clearly a dated notion. That is one way to access a wi-fi signal. There are hand helds that use wi-fi (not to mention the PSP) and those will only increase in their prevalence, especially in a college town.

Further, targeted advertising can be a huge source of revenue and pay for much of the cost and give incentive to a company to foot the bill. It is called "investment." These types of systems could be set up to recognize your computer (via MAC address) and, by looking at where you surf, provide ads related to your surfing habits. Searching for health related products, then a small unobtrusive ad appears in the corner of your browser mentioning a certain gym or health food store is "just a block away."

Google has recently opened up, for beta, their wifi in Mountain View. Those who can "see no need" to take a laptop (funny, isn't that slang for PORTABLE) anywhere in Lawrence" will likely not see the importance. Katie, do you have a laptop? If so, why, if you never leave your house with it?

jayhawks71 11 years, 9 months ago

Well Katie, the PSP was given as a single example of a wi-fi enabled device. PSPs and DSes aren't just used by children either. In fact, with a little ingenuity one can use a PSP to surf the Web, perhaps its an actual feature now.

Next, because YOUR business model doesn't require you to access information on the go, then no one else has a reason either and thus, no good reason to have wi-fi readily accessible? It is more your insinuation; typically people do not post on the boards with the intention of divulging their personal lives without a point. If you were simply divulging that you have no use for wireless outside of your home, with no point or message, then I can hardly be guilty of "missing your point" because there was none.

Yes, you should be impressed with Google; they make ads work, and perhaps you missed my point. That is, a private company could come in and do this for free or at low cost without government taxation providing the funding. The initial reaction people had was "oh I don't want to pay for that" and you did the same, as you stated in your last post. However, the result is people's dismissal of the idea rather than looking into the options that do not include taxpayer funding of community wireless.

When you live in a society, you will pay for things that you don't directly use and others will pay for things that you use but they don't (your street repairs for example). The more collectivist the society, the more of these things there are. I think the number should be kept low.

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