Re: Wireless Internet Access
I agree, in theory, it sounds like a great idea, however there are several obstacles to doing a free city-wide wi-fi network in Ocoee at this time. I live outside the St. Cloud city limits, and can tell you that it is not all that the publicity makes it out to be. It is an expensive undertaking for the infrastructure (St. Cloud initially spent $2.6 million) because the wireless networks found in every modern laptop have very short ranges. Therefore, you need a lot of antennas throughout the City to have coverage. There is a lot of grumbling because many residences and business are too far away from an antenna and require they purchase a booster. There are also apparently issues with the reliability of the network being up. The St. Cloud commission is also being asked to spend more money (approximately $500,000) to increase the number of antennas because the coverage is not sufficient. Ocoee, like St. Cloud, also has a lot of growth, and would need to adjust their Land Development Code to require new developments to pay for the expansion of the system. The City would also have to support and maintain the network, which St. Cloud estimates to be $400,000 a year.
The biggest issue however, is the telecommunication companies and the politicians that support them. The state legislature recently passed a law that makes it very prohibitive for local governments to offer internet access. The telcos are also trying to get federal legislation passed to prohibit local governments from providing this service as well.
As new technology becomes available and more affordable, I will re-examine our options. Some Cities are looking at mesh network technology to provide additional coverage, but its success relies heavily on a large number of users. Wi-max is the successor to wi-fi and appears to be the best future option in development so far, since it claims to have a much larger coverage area per antenna.