2005-08-10 / Editorial

Going wireless

Some readers will think this idea is a little far-fetched, but several communities across the country have done it, and we’d like to see it considered here. We’re talking about wireless access to the internet provided as a service by local government.

Access to the internet has very quickly become essential to daily life for most Americans. Families use it for shopping, planning trips, communicating with friends and each other, and, most of all, for acquiring information. School children use the internet as a primary source for term papers and other school related activities. Businesses use the internet in hundreds of ways, too numerous and obvious to warrant discussion here.

Wireless Fidelity, or WiFi, is simply the next step forward in the world of information technology, and we believe local government can play a role in making it available.

Six hundred square miles of rural eastern Oregon, including communities that don’t even have a traffic light, are providing the service to their residents, schools and public safety officials. Other cities, like Portland and Philadelphia are in the process of providing city-wide wireless access.

In addition to allowing all residents to have access to high speed internet service, city and county law enforcement officials would be able to immediately receive valuable information from national databases.

We’re not sure what the cost would be, but it is obviously low enough for communities across the country to be considering it. It won’t cost anything for our city and county officials to at least take a look at the possibility, and we urge them to do so.

Resistance will naturally come from existing providers, like telephone and cable companies. But, if you look at internet access like any other utility, such as water, sewer, gas and trash pickup, already provided by government, then it’s certainly worth considering.


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