The City of Chicago released a draft RFP for a municipal wireless network on May 30th. There will be a two week comment period for residents and organizations to provide feedback. Make sure to read the draft and send your feedback to the city.
The Wireless Community Networks (WCN) project, an effort of the Center for Neighborhood Technology and its partners, uses wireless technologies in an innovative network design to provide low-cost broadband connectivity and related opportunities such as job searching capability and skill development, to underserved households, community groups, and small businesses.
WCN is a project of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a nonprofit organization founded in 1978 that promotes livable, sustainable communities.
Contact us! Call our toll-free number for more information: (866) WCN-2125
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June 2, 2006
April 27, 2006
The City of Chicago announced that they will be releasing an RFP for a Wireless Broadband Network in late Spring. Who ever wins the bid to deploy the network will be responsible for the financing, installation and management of a for the City of Chicago.
“Please note that Chicago is not seeking to create a municipally-owned utility - it will not own the network, nor will it maintain, operate, upgrade or support the customers who use it.”
At the beginning of May a draft of the RFP will be available online for comments and suggested improvements.
April 19, 2006
Daniel Berninger - “Net neutrality means don’t tread on the Internet!”
Companies selling Internet access argue for property rights as the basis for unwinding long standing net neutrality. However, the companies deriving revenues from Internet access do not own the Internet any more than a company making money from a port owns the ocean. No one entity public or private can own the Internet as in the case of an ocean. An Internet access provider does not assume ownership of the content of communication transiting its network any more than a port assumes ownership of packages loaded onto ships. The Internet access provider like a shipper can assess risks in the sense of whether a package contains liquids, perishables, or hazardous material, but customers reserve the right make decisions about the nature of transport. The telephone network implementation of network neutrality known as common carrier rules prevent AT&T from discriminating against particular users. They prevent Verizon from asking about the purpose of a call before connecting it.
Net neutrality prevents discrimination by limiting billing for transport to generic measures of performance and capacity rather than the nature of the user or usage. Neutrality allows for Internet enabled alternatives to monopolist voice and video providers that also happen to dominate Internet access, so the desire to end neutrality, even if it leads to the death of the Internet, comes as no surprise. Limits on business models pursued by Verizon or AT&T will get criticized as socialism, but government has never escaped the need to assert non-discrimination principles to facilitate commerce. The issues surrounding the present net neutrality debate have arisen with different labels since the Roman Empire. The desire to discriminate against particular users or usage as the means to defeat competition or other nefarious purpose arises in communication (telegraph, telephone, and Internet); transportation (railroads, highways, taxi cabs, and buses); and supporting facilities (hotels, restaurants, gas stations.)
The magnitude of alarm arises from the lack of market forces to discipline anti-customer activities of dominant providers of broadband in the US. A market has to exist for market forces to work. The idea of a telco taking kickbacks to distort Internet access experience would not present much of a problem if alternative suppliers existed. Changing Internet access providers in the US involves moving to a different state. Craig McCaw’s wireless startup Clearwire implements a non-neutral policy in a financial arrangement that gives Bell Canada’s VoIP offer special status while requiring that non-affiliated VoIP companies submit to certification. Ed Whitacre’s AT&T announced a special Internet access offer for VoIP companies. The deal conveniently preserves the usage based access fees in exchange for some undefined quality of service benefit. AT&T’s plans represent more of a problem than Clearwire’s, because AT&T can enforce its certification demands.
Opposition to net neutrality arises to preserve market power in the $300bn voice market not the pursuit of “investment incentives” necessary to improve US broadband penetration rates. AT&T and Verizon claim to need new sources of revenue to fund the “billions and billions” it costs to expand their access networks, but the poor performance of the US broadband ranking traces to the expense of broadband offers not availability. Broadband penetration rankings reflect the cost of broadband around the world. AT&T et al already extract more revenue per bit than carriers in other countries. The proposal of a new revenue stream from advertisers or Google et al will decrease not increase penetration rates. Pew Internet & American Life polls show annual growth in percentage of people with access to the Internet (broadband and dial-up) in the US has already nearly stopped. Ending net neutrality will only reduce the number of people interested in access to the Internet.
Proposals do not even clearly yield a net increase in revenues as implementing a non-neutral policy makes networks less valuable to end users at the same time it makes them more expensive to build and operate. The loss of net neutrality means the Bells would likely end up paying for some content as the price of getting paid for distribution of other content. Neutrality works in both directions. It prevents content and application companies from using their market power. The absence of common carrier status means the cable companies pay for content as Verizon already discovered in a video deal with CBS. Costs go up with the complexity of tying revenue to usage and users to the point where implementation of billing could easily cost more than the underlying service. Loss of net neutrality means the loss of the inherent liability protection. Carriers can not be held liable for illegal uses of their networks to the extent they don’t control use or user. The loss of net neutrality in access will trigger expensive re-negotiation with uncertain outcome of all the network interconnect agreements associated with the “inter” in Internet.
The requirement of accepting all users and all uses on non-discriminatory terms does not foreclose offering different quality of service tiers or non-neutral policies in the name of network management. Quality of service tiers already exist in terms of reliability, performance, and bandwidth, although quality of service guarantees through bandwidth reservation remain a function of private networks. The complexity of business and technical implementations and inherent inefficiencies in bandwidth utilization not net neutrality prevent the extension of quality of service guarantees between networks. Network access providers limit distribution or charge extra for IP addresses, block port 25 use for outbound SMTP, assert narrow Acceptable Use Policies, and consider heavy usage cause for termination. The policies do not violate net neutrality where there exists a plausible linkage to network risks. Net neutrality means users get to choose level of service. In other words, Verizon can’t force one group or another sit at the back of the bus if Google or Amazon refuse to pay a protection fee.
The track record of communication policy apparatus in serving corporate interests over the public interest underlies a sadly compelling argument against making net neutrality rules enforceable. Ironically, government facilitated the accumulation of Bell company market power by granting risk free funding of infrastructure through exclusive monopoly, priceless unconstrained access to public rights-of-way, as well as, no cost spectrum to launch wireless divisions in the 80’s. Consider the speed of Congressional action when Verizon and AT&T say they need national video franchise rights. Consider the fact that Verizon quickly turns to FCC when it finds cable companies pursue non-neutral advertising policies. The Bells point to the failure of communication policy as rationale for yet more concessions rather than admiting a connection to twenty years of incremental regulatory relief. The alignment of government with the monopoly Bells drives up the cost of broadband in the US and slows economic growth no less than the much discussed high cost of energy.
The survival of net neutrality depends on the undemonstrated ability of citizens to get engaged in communication policy developments. The long legal history of common carriage provisions in communications provides a framework to push back in the courts. Entrepreneurs will do their part by creating businesses that probe every weakness in the Bellco defenses. The relative expense of broadband continues to throttle growth of the info tech industry, but info tech appears divided between defending the Internet and reluctance to challenge powerful anti-Internet forces. A letter pushing for strong enforcement of net neutrality sent to Commerce Committee Chairman Barton by the CEO’s of Amazon, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, and eBay keeps hope alive. Its seems at least possible average citizens will mobilize like they have in the past when essential freedoms come under threat and rally around a flag that reads “Don’t tread on the Internet!”
By Leslie Walker Washington Post Staff Writer
While growth is slowing at most top Internet sites, it is skyrocketing at sites focused on social networking, blogging and local information.
The dramatic success of those Internet categories is apparent from a recent online-traffic analysis provided by market research firm ComScore Media Metrix, which examined visitor growth rates among the 50 top Web sites over the past year.
Top-ranked sites growing the most, ComScore’s data showed, were Blogger.com, a personal publishing site; MySpace.com, where young people do virtual preening and share musical tastes; Wikipedia, an open reference site jointly edited by millions of people; and Citysearch, a network of local guides focused on cities.
The number of monthly visitors to each site rose at rates ranging from 185 percent (Citysearch) to 528 percent (Blogger.com) between February 2005 and February 2006. Their growth far exceeded the 4 percent increase in overall Internet visitors in the United States during that period.
The traffic analysis shows the Internet is still a space where new brands such as MySpace can suddenly break into the upper ranks, where older brands such as Citysearch can revive themselves after languishing for years, and where established outfits such as Google often wind up as beneficiaries because they buy or copy services pioneered by upstarts.
Google Inc., for instance, bought Blogger.com in 2003; the number of people posting or reading material at that site jumped to 15.6 million last month from 2.5 million a year ago.
“The growth in blogging reminds us the Internet is fulfilling its original promise about participation,” said Gary Arlen, a research analyst and president of Arlen Communications Inc. “This medium empowers users in such a way that they can do what they want and be heard.”
Peter Daboll, president and chief executive of ComScore Media Metrix, said one notable recent traffic trend is increased popularity of sites helping people find local information: “Things having to do with local search are really gaining momentum.”
In addition to Citysearch, a network devoted to local entertainment and commerce, Daboll said, two local directories made the Web’s top 50 last month, WhitePages.com and Verizon’s Superpages.com.
Citysearch, which is owned by IAC/InterActive Corp., recently announced its first full year of profitability, thanks to its increase in ad sales. And the Kelsey Group, a Princeton, N.J., consulting firm specializing in local advertising, projects that ads relating to locally focused Internet searches will become a $6.1 billion market within five years.
Greg Sterling, an independent analyst, said local Internet services lagged behind their national counterparts for years but are finally coming on strong because they are much better today and people are more aware of their utility. “This is stuff people need and want in their everyday lives,” Sterling said, “and to the extent they can find it online, they are starting to use these tools.”
ComScore usually lumps together sites owned by the same firm in its Internet traffic reports, so AOL’s visitors, for example, would be merged with those of other sites owned by Time Warner Inc. But The Washington Post asked ComScore to break out traffic for the Web’s top 50 individual sites to get an idea of which were gaining and losing momentum.
The analysis showed that the Internet’s biggest brands have plenty of staying power or at least are keeping pace with growth in the overall online population. Yahoo retains the largest audience in the United States, though its visitor growth slowed to about 5 percent last year.
Google was the only mega-site bucking the trend, with its users shooting up 21 percent in the past year. Not only has Google steadily expanded its share of the market for Web search, ComScore found, but it also has been attracting new users by expanding into other services offered by rivals, such as e-mail, mapping and personal publishing. If you combine traffic to all the properties it owns, including Blogger.com, Google’s total audience jumped 27 percent last year, ComScore found.
A customer at a cafe in San Francisco uses its wireless Internet access. Traffic at social-networking sites such as MySpace.com, which caters to young users, boomed in 2005. A customer at a cafe in San Francisco uses its wireless Internet access. Traffic at social-networking sites such as MySpace.com, which caters to young users, boomed in 2005. (By Justin Sullivan — Getty Images) Data
* Top Web Domains Statistics from online-traffic analysis by market research firm ComScore Media Metrix.
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The total audience for all of Time Warner’s Internet properties, including AOL’s various online services, showed little or no growth. Neither did the total audience for Microsoft Corp.’s collective Internet services, though some discrete services did well.
AOL’s Mapquest.com, for example, pulled 7 percent more visitors in February this year compared with last.
One of the more dramatic growth stories was MySpace, which pulled 37 million visitors last month, 28 million more than a year ago. That gave it a ranking of No. 10 among all sites in the United States, according to ComScore.
Usage data for MySpace suggests an even higher popularity ranking: Based on total pages viewed and the time spent by each visitor, MySpace ranked No. 2 on the entire Internet, right behind Yahoo.
After Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought MySpace for $580 million last summer, the site made headlines when some men were arrested and charged with assaulting girls they had identified on the site. Since then, News Corp. has been working feverishly to improve safety on MySpace by screening photos for pornography and removing profiles of underage users.
Joining MySpace on the fast track was Wikipedia, the open encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Its traffic soared 275 percent last year following widespread media play over the posting of fake biographical material and similar controversies regarding the site’s accuracy.
Wed Apr 19, 2006 1:05am ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly half of U.S. users of the Internet went online for help with major life decisions such as finding a college for their child or looking for a new place to live, according to a survey released on Wednesday.
The results show that the Internet is becoming increasingly important to users in their everyday lives, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a non-profit group which conducted the survey.
Some 45 percent of Internet users, or an estimated 60 million Americans, said the Internet helped them make big decisions or face a major moment in their life during the previous two years, the survey found. That was up from 40 percent of Internet users who answered the same survey questions in 2002.
Specifically, the survey asked 2,201 adults last month if the Internet played a crucial or important role in making at least one of eight major life decisions.
An estimated 21 million Americans turned to the Internet when seeking more training for a career, while 17 million used it to choose a school for a family member or to help another person with a major illness, the Pew Internet group said.
Some 16 million Americans used the Internet when buying a car or making a major investment or financial decision, it said. An estimated 10 million Americans used the Internet when looking for a new place to live; 8 million when changing jobs; and 7 million when dealing with their own major illness or health condition, the survey said.
“It seems likely that the convenience of broadband draws more users to the Internet to deal with some decision,” the Pew Internet group said. However, better online content and more widely advertised web sites may also contribute to the rising use of the Internet with major life decisions, it said.
The survey results were posted on the Internet at www.pewinternet.org.
April 17, 2006
The WCN community partner in Pilsen, the Gads Hill Center, will be holding a 3 on 3 charity basketball tournament on Saturday, May 20, 2006 at the Windy City Fieldhouse. Go to the Hoops for the Hill 2006 website for more information.
A participant from North Lawndale’s WCN has used their connection to start an e-shop selling a variety of goods. Go to the ONEight Gift Shop to mak a purchase and support a fellow WCN participants’ business.
Technology students from the West Frankfort High School are trained to take on some of the responsibilities of maintaining West Frankfort’s WCN. Staff of John A. Logan College have trained students to take over installations, trouble-shooting and programming for the network in southern Illinois. These students will in turn train next years class to do the same.