Muni WiFi That's Incumbent Friendly

With all of the stories about incumbents attacking muni-WiFi, it looks like the city of Alexandria, Virginia was extremely smart in setting up their own muni WiFi offering in a way that let it get built without resistance from incumbents. They mainly focused on the benefits to the government itself, such as using the WiFi to have trash cans let the city know when it needed to be compacted. The city basically played up these aspects of the WiFi, while also giving local residents a bunch of reasons why they probably don’t want to use it: no customer support since it’s free, no encryption (a bit of a red herring, actually…), and since the access points are outside, they won’t guarantee how well the service will work indoors. They also say if the service were abused, they might limit usage to two hours a day or something. All of this meant that the incumbent broadband providers were satisfied and “approved” the city’s plans. Of course, the sneaky bit about all this is that anyone can still use that network for free. It’s just not being heavily advertised for public use. It’s almost a way to sneak such a muni network around the incumbents by telling people not to use the network, while still making it available.

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