Boca Raton's city council puts Wi-Fi at bottom of priorities: The council would prefer a paid system to bring in revenue, and points to what they characterized as an expensive and failed downtown Wi-Fi test in Orlando. The assistant city manager cites a few cities he says that have installed "hot zones," but it's an odd selection, and most of these kinds of hot zones are paid for with private money (downtown chambers of commerce or privately funded by ISPs). Other statements appear a little odd, too, frankly.
Pittsburgh pauses: While it seemed ready to sign a utility pole agreement with US Wireless to provide a combination of paid, limited free, and digital divide Wi-Fi service citywide, the city council had an odd vote (three for, three abstain, three absent) on a proposal they needed to sign off on for the deal to proceed. They may vote again on Tuesday. One abstainer said he wants a term shorter than seven years. There's also reportedly concern that US Wireless's deal has incentives that make an unlevel playing field. EarthLink has apparently offered to build a network with no incentives. A few days ago, I wrote about "Muni-Stall," or the apparent delays that emerge when municipal decisionmaking is engaged. Elected officials often make decisions slowly, regardless of early quick progress, and that's not a bad thing when long-term contracts (five to 15 years, often) are involved.
Suffolk County considers unwiring 900 square miles: There are 1.5m residents of this New York county which would bid out for a private firm to bear all risk and cost associated. It might include pushing service out over the water, too, given the extensive coastline. Suffolks is an odd mix of non-urban landscape, this article in The New York Times explains, which may make it appealing for Wi-Fi coverage. A local Wi-Fi/networking guru, Craig Plunkett, wrote a response to an early floating of this plan almost three months ago.
I don't know if there's more to the grouping of articles here than you intended, Glenn, but I took the bait and blogged on MetroNetIQ this morning with an article I titled "The Great is the Enemy of the Good." The theme I see could as easily be called "Better Safe than Sorry" - the prevailing city official view on wireless broadband. These deals only seem to move forward when a private partner steps forward to shoulder all the risk, and even then, that might not be enough for some.
I submit that there's another way to move forward - widespread public education and public relations and small scale demonstration network deployments - that will engage the public, reduce the political risk, and still, move the ball forward. Focusing on extensive debate to acheive zero-risk, large-scale deployments in a "winner-take-all" approach is in fact, counter-intuitive. It raises the risk at the same time it lowers the chances of near-term benefits for the public.