The Philadelphia City Council grills Dianah Neff on Wireless Philadelphia (reg. req.; get login at Bugmenot): Let's keep in mind that some council members are opponents of the mayor; some are interested in his office. Issues were raised about whether the projections of revenue and expense will turn out to be accurate.
The issue of cheap DSL raised its head, as it has since prices plummeted in light of the wireless plan. Verizon is now offering DSL for as little as $15 per month for a full year. Neff pointed out, this article says, that these plans require long-term commitments and have no price guarantees after the initial period. Further, this $15 per month plan is 768 Kbps down, 128 Kbps up, according to Verizon's Web site. The Philly project wants 1 Mbps in each direction as basic service; that might be why access point estimates jumped from 1,000-2,000 up to 3,000.
Comcast has been briefing the council, and a public statement said the company fears the city will be putting taxpayers at risk. Yeah, right. I keep seeing these statements, and I keep asking: when did it become the business of companies that are offering competitive services to municipalities to be "concerned" about taxpayers? They're not. These companies exist to pull as much profit out of a given service as possible. That's the nature of a publicly owned and traded firm, right? So this pretense of public mindedness is total crap--or they're betraying their executives and shareholders. Drop the pretense and just say that you can't compete with municipally funded or franchised broadband, and argue the merits of that point in the marketplace.
A local firm, Closed Networks, says they serve 50 square miles of Philly already with wireless broadband offered at prices starting at $50 per month. But that's grossly not specifically correct. At their site, you can see that you have to have a specific site survey and commit to one or two years of service. There's a $50 setup fee for a one-year commitment, waived for a two-year commitment. Their site doesn't describe what you get in terms of speed for $20 per month, although it seems like you get whatever the fastest speed they can reach you with above some minimum Kbps. The site notes frankly that apartment buildings might be an issue because the landlord has to agree to allow antennas.
The Wireless Philadelphia plan differs from this offering by using a mesh instead of a point-to-multipoint approach. It also aims to provide full coverage from the get-go: interior access will require a CPE bridge, but the idea is no external antennas. Because it's a digital divide proposal, housing projects and apartment buildings are absolutely part of the target market, and will have to receive coverage. Because they can use utility poles and access, it'll be easier to beam Wi-Fi at a building instead of having to receive and redistribute it.