Editorial: Wireless Madison
September 9, 2004
Madison has long been one of America's most "wired" cities.
Now it is time for Madison to become one of America's most "wireless"
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is exploring the prospect of launching a citywide
initiative aimed at making wireless Internet service accessible.
Inspired by a plan announced last month by Philadelphia Mayor John
Street, Cieslewicz is interested in having Madison develop what is
known as a "mesh network," which could make it possible for Madisonians
to log onto the Internet without using a phone line.
Cieslewicz is thinking right. Wireless networks are going to be part
of this country's communications future, and the cities that are ahead
of the curve could gain an advantage in the intense competition for
development and commerce that rages among different municipalities,
regions and states.
Even if there were no development or commercial advantage to be gained,
however, broadening access to the Internet is a good idea. Doing so
makes it easier for citizens to gain information, debate issues and
participate in political processes. The benefits for students in a
university town such as Madison should be substantial. And of course
there are benefits for the city itself, as a well-developed wireless
system would make it easier to facilitate police, fire and
While the potential is obvious, that does not mean success is
guaranteed. Cieslewicz and his aides need to go about the process of
making Madison a wireless city in an appropriate manner. For instance,
it would be foolish to contract with a private company that would
charge Madisonians who want to log onto the Internet. To do so would
create an economic barrier to expanding Internet access to as many
Madisonians as possible.
It would also be foolish to develop wireless service only for certain
sections of the city - such as downtown and the Dane County Regional
Airport. While those are good starting spots for an initiative of this
sort, the mayor's goal should be to provide access for everyone,
everywhere in Madison.
Published: 7:49 AM 9/9/04
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