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Municipal WiFi projects get real September 19, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Technology, Workforce.
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Great article in Government Computer News (audio, mp3) on the maturation of the municipal WiFi markets. In addition to the larger societal impact, the author mentions the economic development side of the matter:

WiFi also is seen as an economic development tool, attracting high-spending professionals to downtown areas and luring or retaining companies who want cheap network access and the benefit of a mobile workforce. Scottsburg, Ind., (pop. 6,040) spent $300,000 on a city-owned network when two significant employers threatened to leave the area.

“That was one of the more dramatic examples of how the technology helped a small city keep what little business base it had,” Settles said, adding that WiFi at convention centers might help a city compete with other convention sites.

Subsidized broadband also can boost depressed areas, which tend to have small, marginal businesses that can ill afford services. Experts say it can also spur Internet-based home businesses in pockets of unemployment. “You’re taking an inactive workforce and turning them into entrepreneurs,” Settles said.

Lots of other side issues are discussed in the article, including municipal ownership v. private ownership, the lack of thoughtful planning in the development of wireless networks, and more.


I mention it because the issues of workforce, especially brain drain, are intimately tied to the digital divide. A 21st century workforce needs a 21st century infrastructure to get their work done.

Our incumbent worker population will come to appreciate a municipal WiFi network and integrate it into their work routine; a member of the emerging workforce could use the presence (or lack thereof) of a WiFi network as a reason to locate in a city. The Scottsburg, Indiana example is an excellent one for communities of all sizes to consider (Case study from MuniWireless.com here, WiFi hardware provider Alvarion’s promotional sheet here).

Back to the article, though. I appreciate their notion that the WiFi network is all too often treated like a “flavor of the month” in municipal planning – that it is poorly thought out with no business plan for long-term sustainability. Done right, these networks should be as valid – and valuable – an infrastructure asset as roads, electricity and sewers. And they should be meaningful assets toward sustaining (building?) a world-class workforce in the communities they serve.  Building business plans for this type of venture should be a piece of cake; it just has to be done.

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1. Laz Sanchez - October 2, 2006

While this comment is promotional, it is NOT purely promotional! We want to answer the call! We have been there and seen the pain, please contact us with any questions about our strategy or why we are doing this (outside of profit).

Municipal Co-Operative WiFi ISP – We are looking for townships that are interested in private sector funding under Co-Op enviornment

MUNICIPAL WIRELESS CO-OPERATIVE OFFER!

To all rural communities, please contact us!

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Mission Statement

To seek a cooperative arrangement from interested communities who desire to partner with Alarius-Net for the purpose of offering the local residents, the business community and the municipal government a 3rd choice for Broadband Internet Access, and the first municipal mesh wireless option that supports and provides a ubiquitous blanket of advanced wireless technologies that serve the entire community foot print.

Primary Goals:
To ensure that the communities contacted understand that we are not soliciting them to engage in a wireless endeavor costing the community millions of dollars to build an infrastructure and to then leave them to maintain it themselves. *This is always an option, but not one preferred by most rural or underserved communities with a small and tight budget.
To ensure that the communities contacted understand that little to NO capital outlay on the part of the town to build or run the proposed service is required for most of our Co-Op options. We finance and build the infrastructure, and run the Co-Op ourselves in most Co-Op scenarios.
To ensure that the new Co-Op introduces a less costly competitive broadband option for residents and businesses within the community’s foot print.
To provide wholesale or “Free” use of infrastructure for all Town offices. Depending on what flavor of “Co-Op” is selected by the municipality.
To provide a wholesale or a “Free” and dedicated network to support Public Safety needs. Depending on what flavor of “Co-Op” is selected by the municipality.

Primary Objectives:
Creation of a more competitive market for Internet Access which should drive better price points and value for the town.
To introduce a reduction in the Town’s operating budget due to cost savings introduced by the cooperative arrangement with the town being a “cornerstone client”.
To guarantee an increased efficiency of municipal operations with the introduction of “Wi-Fiber” gigabit+ licensed microwave technology.
To introduce public safety technologies like video surveillance, tag recognition, automatic WiFi “utilities” meter reading, High Speed Mobility for law enforcement, healthcare “Mobility” for telemedicine, Homeland Security WiFi Mesh, video conferencing and streaming and many other technological advances.

Desired Outcome:
To successfully gain an audience with your community leaders to review a number of proposed “Co-Op” options.
Ultimately, if any options qualify as a possible viable project, a movement to make up project plans is brought up at a subsequent town meeting.
Co-Operative Project Fruition and a satisfied Community.

Key Notes:
Alarius-Net partners with Agility Solutions for lease financing and WiFi consultation. Bill McNamara of Agility Solutions can be contacted for reference or questions concerning our infrastructure financing, technical consultation, implementation questions, and any other municipal or WiFi deployment or ongoing operational questions that you may want answered by our experienced consultants and subject matter experts.

http://www.agilitysolutions.net

Alarius-Net uses the finest carrier grade microwave hardware, towers and installation practices.
Alarius-Net partners with over 80 carriers for bandwidth and dial-tone “wholesale”.
Alarius-Net uses open source Linux servers and appliances for all email, file storage, SAN, DNS, IDS, VoIP IPBX, and other core applications.

PS

It’s election time. lol

Laz Sanchez
Alarius-Net
407-756-7109 cell
laz.sanchez@yahoo.com
http://alarius-net.com

2. Laz Sanchez - October 2, 2006

So…

Here is my pitch: Since then, I have formed a tighter bond and a business alliance with other peers that were down there with me and I have strengthened alliances with telecommunication companies, providers, related businesses and WiFi operators that are also business investors in rural expansion.
I have sent every town and city in Alabama (I am now on Mississippi) an invitation to form a Co-Operative with my group to bring Municipal WiFi Mesh technology and superior carrier grade licensed and unlicensed fixed wireless. I am not talking about gear or methods like my buddy Jim who owns a WISP in Florida serving a small community, I am talking about a City wide Muni-Mesh serving multiple venues not just “Internet” to any community that wants our help and sees our vision. “Co-Operative” Private/Public relationship with monies going back into the community as profit sharing grants for education, collegian student subsidy for broadband and PC, local technology training, hiring local residents to run the community WiFi’s, and we would fund the infrastructure up front! Little to NO capital outlay from the municipalities because we know that they DO NOT have the budget monies!
I am lost! We are in it for a profit, but not so much that it is the only driver. We see the potential to help bring our America’s next generation a running start in their own backyard.

This is NOT a sales pitch!

My confusion stems from everyone screaming help us, but no-one replying to my HELP. I have read countless articles on “Enterprise-Ready Communities”, “Breaking the Digital Divide”, “Rural Economic Expansion”, “Technological Growth”, and I am responding…but few and almost none are responding. 😦 I have had a slight show of interest from Prattville and Thomasville communities and we are trying to work with them to see if our plan makes sense for their communities. My vision is a web of co-ops all “roaming” within each other cohesively and in symbiosis or synergistic state of operations. Alabama as a huge “HOT-ZONE” of municipal and private sector networks working as one (on a topical layer) to provide Alabama a ubiquitous blanket of wired and wireless communications.

Please help guide me! Your Mayors and County Leaders are very slow in seeing a “Golden Opportunity” Any recommendations? Please visit my website and my partners website, we have experience, funding, and a sense of purpose that is NOT solely motivated by the financial gains.

Thank you

http://alarius-net.com/ (this is ours) and
http://www.agilitysolutions.net/index.html (are our financial backers and multiple WISPs operators/consultants/contractors)
http://theisi.com/ (this is who we were working for!, but…they were only in it for fame/marketing. We wanted to continue to Alabama and to cover more of Mississippi)
PS

Laz Sanchez
Alarius-Net
407-756-7109 cell
laz.sanchez@yahoo.com
http://alarius-net.com

3. Laz Sanchez - October 29, 2006

U.S. Municipalities Plan to Spend More Than $3 Billion on Public Wi-Fi Over the Next Four Years

10/30/06 – More than $3 billion will be spent over the next four years to build and operate public wireless networks for U.S. municipalities, according to a new research report by Muniwireless.com. Spending Will Exceed Earlier Forecasts Spending will exceed $235 million in 2006 — significantly higher the forecast of $177 million made last year — according to the research findings. For 2007, spending will reach $460 million, compared to last year’s estimate of $406 million.


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