Philadelphia just became another major US city to hit a connection snag in their plan to offer citywide free Wi-Fi. Earthlink, the private company working with Philly, has just announced its intention to pull the figurative plug on Philly's operating project. Why the pull-out? Money. The New York Times reports that: "The conclusion that such ventures would not be profitable led to sudden withdrawals by service providers like EarthLink, the Internet company that had effectively cornered the market on the efforts by the larger cities."
The virtual age is making internet a utility rather than a luxury, so with all the other services cities offer — libraries, parks, public transportation, and water — many realize the necessity to provide citizens with free municipal wireless internet. It's been three years since Philadelphia announced its plan to become the city of wireless love, bringing free internet to all residents and the poor are feeling the pinch.
Tons of other cities, like Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco, realize the need and have decided to follow suit — but wireless for the masses is still just a pipe dream. Massive technological problems, faulty business models, politics, and of course, money, have resulted in a bad connection between the cities and their internet provider partners. To see the impact of this disconnection,
Living without the internet can be an insurmountable disadvantage to the already struggling. This day in age, the internet is used for almost everything, from finding a job, to completing a high school research paper.
Is the internet a luxury, or a citizen's right? Would it be best to let the private sector continue to cut prices, and separately subsidize those who still cannot afford a connection? How can residents find out about all the other great city services, if they can't even google them? Are you in favor of free Wi-Fi?