At-large Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Felix Arroyo say that rather than just let old payphones collect trash and rust, the city should use them to set up free wireless zones.
The councilors say Boston could use more places where people could get online for free:
There is a digital divide between different demographics and socioeconomic levels and such a program would expand access to the internet for more Boston residents.
The two will ask the full council tomorrow to approve a hearing on whether Boston could follow New York with a pilot of free, anonymous WiFi.
Think the mayor would WiFi this WiFi idea?
Ronan Park and Town Field now have WiFi, the city announces, adding they join Boston Common, Statler Park in Park Square, Christopher Columbus Park in the North End, and the clubhouses at George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park and William Devine Golf Course in Franklin Park.
Two users of Android mobile phones yesterday filed class-action lawsuits against the manufacturer of their phones and a software company that boasts it can track what Android users are doing even when their phones are in airplane mode.
I met today with some folks from Clearwire, which today launched a wireless broadband service in the Boston area. I'll have a more complete report later (and a coverage map), but for now, here are answers to questions folks asked me on Twitter:
- Clearwire is working with Sprint and Comcast. It has no plans to work with Verizon or AT&T.
- Clearwire does have a mobile hotspot gizmo that lets you connect an iSomething (Pad, Phone and Pod) to its network (it has a similar gizmo for PCs and other devices that can connect to WiFi)
- The company has not talked to the MBTA about putting antennas in T tunnels; says it will once it finishes the buildout of its above-ground antennas over the next year or so.
- The company plans to blanket the entire area within 128 first (looks to have about 60% covered now), then the area within 495. Currently uncovered areas include large parts of Roxbury, Hyde Park, Roslindale and West Roxbury and parts of Mattapan, Jamaica Plain and Dorchester.
- The company is still looking for testers (will get contact info).
BostInnovation reports Verizon has finished up Boston technical tests of its 4G wireless, which promises download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps, and will now begin looking for users to test it out - with actual service to be offered by the end of this year. No word on cost.
Tim O'Reilly tweets that as of July 1, Starbucks will eliminate fees for using wireless in its stores.
OK, savvy travelers know there's free wireless at Logan for the holidays.
Ben Ostrander reports, though, that when you connect to loganwifi, you're given a choice: Free wireless or the traditional $10 wireless.
Anybody know if the paid WiFi is better somehow (better throughput?)? Or is it just for the sort of person you'd expect to see on a Chance card in Monopoly, using a $10 bill to light a cigar?
In Medfield I think we lost power for less than an hour today, but it was a reminder that reallly bad weather (even in '78 we didn't lose power, but remember that Quebec ice storm???)normal communications might be disrupted, and we'd be on our own.
Sharon Gartenberg cannot believe Framingham is considering spending $1 million to create a downtown wireless zone:
... OK, so we can't afford to replace the terribly inadequate branch library in Saxonville, but we have a million dollars to spend so "Police, fire, public works, and health inspection services personnel all could work away from the office more efficiently with laptops and wireless Internet access"? Um, I don't think so.
And by the way, Framingham is 26 square miles, not just 3. If the service is for public employees, what possible rationale could there be to spend a million dollars to offer wireless very close to town offices, and not offer it in areas of the town more remote from town hall? ...
Markj is happy:
... Finally, Boston may get a chance to catch up with all of the other places that have free WiFi at the airport, with no thanks to AssPort. ...
In what is supposed to be a public place, it seems absurd to pay for wireless access, especially in a city that's supposed to be a high-tech leader.
Herald Managing Editor Joe Dwinell checks in from the Quincy Market rotunda, where he files a blog post via the marketplace's free WiFi - and where he learns from a visiting Mayo Clinic physician that the wireless service won't be giving him a brain tumor:
... He has pulled up a seat next to me to blog along. He's also asking about Mitt Romney and how a liberal Massachusetts can elect a Mormon Republican. Checks and balances, I say. ...
John Keith explains why:
... Free and low-cost wireless is available - I use it all the time, at the public libraries in Copley Square and in the South End. Starbucks has monthly plans costing $29.99 and $39.99. The city has also announced plans to install wireless along its "Main Streets."
If there was a demand for wireless access, throughout the city, you can bet that a private company would have already entered the market.
That no one has, shows there is really no interest in this, beyond a few, good-intentioned, but misguided politicians. ...
Sitting on the front porch trying to see if our wireless access point was up, I did a site survey - and discovered somebody on the block now has a wireless network called:
Fuck Off Losers
At least they were smart enough to turn on encryption.
Steve Garfield explains why he's not impressed with the city's recently released proposal for a citywide WiFi network that would include for-profit competition:
... Once we have WiFi all over Boston, I am NOT going to want to pay a daily charge or another monthly charge to get online. ...
Andrew spots a crew in Roslindale Square making a movie about a girl who runs away from Roslindale for Argentina. Plus, he discusses the difficulties of getting Wi-Fi in the Square.
Mike Mennonno finds himself in a WiFi pickle: His downstairs neighbor suddenly added encryption to her wireless network and he can't use the BPL wireless because of that matter of the outstanding library fines, which means he can't get a library card for the PIN he'd need to use their network:
... So I was stuck. It's Karma, of course. I could tell you the whole story of the card, the books, the fine, but it's very long, and very, very sordid. ...
BART, San Francisco's subway system, is looking for vendors to WiFi-enable its trains.
What if the T did that? Of course, this being Boston, you'd probably wind up with doofuses taking up three seats for their laptops and venti grandes - or whacking people in the head as they try to angle their Treos for maximum download speeds.
Boston Unplugged: Mapping a Wireless Future, released today by the Boston Foundation, the Museum of Science and West Roxbury/Jamaica Plain City Councilor John Tobin, explains why they think Boston needs a citywide wireless network:
Boston is known around the world for its innovation. Our technology, education, and healthcare institutions are recognized all over the globe. Our city attracts some of the brightest minds and talented professionals in a wide variety of fields. If Boston wants to maintain that edge it must keep pace with
the changing world.
Ah, the old world-class city gambit! Kevin Rothstein expresses some skepticism:
WiFi took a major step forward today â€¦.. haven't we heard this before? ...
While Boston struggles to build wireless coverage in a select number of neighborhood commercial districts, MIT and Cambridge are looking at blanketing the entire city of Cambridge with WiFi by the end of the year:
... The initial testing phase and service will be provided by MIT free of charge to Cambridge, Kurt L. Keville '90, a research specialist at the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT, said in an e-mail. But if MIT has underestimated the traffic on the network, the service will have a charge rather than being free; however, Keville said he does not anticipate any problems because MIT's bandwidth is "ridiculously high." Cambridge has over 100,000 residents. ...
They'll be using Roofnet "mesh" technology, developed at MIT, that reduces the costs of the network by turning each participant into a router, reducing the number of dedicated routers needed. A Roofnet is also being built at the South End's Tent City.
Note: To be fair, in addition to the Boston Main Street program, every Boston Public Library branch offers free WiFI.
MIT Tech link via Ben Brophy, who says:
... They are focusing first on housing development, so we might get early access since we are near the Putnam projects (and thatâ€™s a good thing for once!). ...
David discusses a project in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in which transit buses become part of a wireless mesh - that lets riders get on the 'Net at T-1 speeds and which aims to make the buses more secure (drivers have panic buttons and cameras that, once the button is pressed, can be controlled remotely by police):
... I find it incredible that while Boston, known for good reason as the Hub of the Universe (and points beyond), is still yammering about whether to create a muni mesh network, the good folks of Cedar Rapids are already demonstrating every day that this kind of system pays both security AND economic benefits (in part, it was undertaken as part of an urban revitalization scheme, and to give transit riders a few perks -- that would sure get me out of my car!). Let's get with the program, Boston. ...
The more cynical among you no doubt would suggest the T would be far more interested in using CharlieTickets to track users than providing a new, useful service (is my mind going, or did the T once promise to bring cell service to underground stations?). But the T might also take another lesson from Cedar Rapids, specifically, its passenger hygiene policy:
Personal hygiene must be maintained in a manner that does not result in offensive odors that are unavoidable and objectionable to other passengers.
Steve does a video report on the Globe's Pulse Points - wicked-fast Web sites that blast information at your wireless-enabled laptop - but only if you're within range of one of their access points (currently South Station and Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Newbury Street).
If it's true, it's a helluva value, somewhere near the intersection of Mass. Ave. and Boylston St.
WiFi signals may not travel well past the front of stores. Main Streets hopes to encourage business owners to get the signal deeper into their buildings via discounted packages consisting of a Colubris repeater, installation and a decal that let's shopowners let the public know they offer free Wi-Fi. The equipment will cost about $300, installation about $45, although the first storeowners to sign up will get free installation.
The goal of the WiFi program is not to compete with ISPs but instead give business owners in each of the city's 19 Main Street commercial districts an new tool for attracting customers.
You got signal? I got signal! Brian Goodman of Boston Main Streets and Pat McCormick of the Boston Wireless Advocacy Group check out Roslindale WiFi under the stars - just like Hyde Park WiFi, only Rozzier - after a meeting about WiFi in Roslindale, Hyde Park and West Roxbury.
Hyde Park's become the second city neighborhood to get a city-sponsored WiFi zone after Roslindale. The city's Main Streets program last week installed a wireless access point atop the municipal building in Hyde Park (at Fairmount Avenue and River Street) - similar to the wireless access points that now cover Roslindale Square.
The service, separate from the Boston Public Library's existing WiFi service at the Hyde Park branch, is aimed at giving local businesses a way to give their employees and customers quick 'Net access. But anybody within sight of the municipal building can tap in.