CRM Junkyard TMC

Wi-Fi for New York

August 16, 2005

Andrew Rasiej (pronounced rah-SHAY) is a community activist and successful businessman who, when running NYC’s rock-music venue Irving Plaza, in 1997 founded MOUSE (Making Opportunities for Upgrading Schools and Education), a nonprofit organization focused on integrating technology into teaching and learning in urban public schools.


Among many activities, MOUSE trains students to run their school’s technology help desks (MOUSE Squad), helping them to learn skills and empowering them to improve their own schools technologies. (As well, he proposed the creation of a National Tech Corps to provide emergency technical, communication and database support in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist strike.)


Rasiej is also a NYC Democratic Public Advocate candidate. Now, I am not endorsing him here; rather, I am bringing to the attention of fellow New York inhabitants one of his current projects, called Wi-Fi NY: Bringing affordable, universal Wi-Fi to all New Yorkers. 


This appears to be an okay project -- but a fantastic idea -- I think, as the wireless Internet access in New York City is pretty crappy. We’re ranked 21 among other U.S. cities and regions in terms of wireless access, according to a recent Intel report. Philadelphia’s similar campaign has been gaining ground and acclaim, and Rasiej points to the neighboring city to show that “this is no pipeless dream.”


At Advocates for Rasiej, there can be found the full plan, petitions, profiles, blogs, press articles, press releases and NYC technology/infrastructure facts — all of which seem to be backed with valid and legit information sources.


I really don’t care whether my fellow New York dwellers vote for him or not, as I don’t yet know of his ability or sincerity; but the information he provides at the site is worth looking at; is a decent resource for info. w/r/t NYC’s national infrastructure position and the city’s opportunity for better Internet service.


Below is the Wi-Fi NY project at a glance — 



How will Wi-Fi NY work?
• Thanks to the late 1990s over-investment in fiber-optic cable, the City is awash in “dark fiber” that sits unused but connected to the Internet;
• This unused wiring would be connected to wireless routers deployed on city lamp-posts and other public property, forming the backbone of an integrated network, or what some call a “mesh” network;
• This new network will bring high-speed Internet to and through apartment buildings, homes, and other structures. 


How much will Wi-Fi NY cost?

• Based on the Philadelphia experience, we estimate it will cost less than $10 per New York City resident, or $80 million, to build a universal Wi-Fi system here;
• The system will be free to use in public places across the City — parks, public schools, and the subways;
• Businesses and residents will likely pay about $20 per month for basic high-speed Internet service, with subsidies for low-income families. 


Who will build and operate it?

The city has a range of options other than building and operating the network itself. These include:
• creating a non-profit corporation to build and/or operate it;
• issuing bonds to build the network and outsourcing its operation to private companies;
• establishing a utility company to build and operate the network; or
• incentivizing private companies to build and operate the system by providing access to public fixtures and acting as the anchor tenant.




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Listed below are links to sites that reference Wi-Fi for New York: