broadband for everyone?

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

From NYT on Philly’s broadband plans

If Mayor John F. Street has his way, by next year this 135-square-mile metropolis will become one gigantic wireless hot spot, offering every neighborhood high-speed access to the Web at below-market prices in what would be the largest experiment in municipal Internet service in the country.

City officials envision a seamless mesh of broadband signals that will enable the police to download mug shots as they race to crime scenes in their patrol cars, allow truck drivers to maintain Internet access to inventories as they roam the city, and perhaps most important, let students and low-income residents get on the net.

Experts say the Philadelphia model, if successful, could provide the tipping point for a nationwide movement to make broadband affordable and accessible in every municipality. From tiny St. Francis, Kan., to tech-savvy San Francisco, more than 50 local governments have already installed or are on the verge of creating municipal broadband systems for the public.

The article articulates various issues that make sense as questions to raise. Since information is physical–it’s made of something–what holds it, makes it, carries it, or spins it can take mucho forms. But such a move on the part of a city “reveals” something about the nature of communications, technology, and the science of information. Does the means of distribution reveal value?


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