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> I live in the future, (So where's my hoverboard?)
Novander
post Aug 31 2006, 02:06 PM
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I'm not registered to vote here, all my bank statements and the like get sent to my parent's house, but more and more I feel like Norwich is my home city. Which is why I actually feel a sense of pride when I read news reports such as this: Norwich Pioneers Free City Wi-Fi*. The western world is so web-focused that a move like this is a great step towards the future.

Okay, so it's not exactly free internet access for everyone, as you still need your own laptop/mobile/glitch/whatever (which will run out of power oh so quickly) but it's a good start.

I feel I ought to point out that I'm not posting this through wi-fi, I'm using my same ol' home computer, but that's not the point: People used to talk about streets paved with gold, but here's Norwich paved with bytes. Far more useful than gold. Way cooler, too.

Yes, the connection is slower than broadband, and for good reason too. I strongly believe that internet access should be free, but I'm happy to pay more for fast internet. Competition is what drives the market forwards. But even a slow connection is a still a connection and still gives people access to information and communication (and, inevitably, porn) wherever they are. If broadband dug dial-up's grave, then free wi-fi is carving the headstone.

I'm not really sure where I'm heading with this post, so I'm going to let you guys take it from here. Should internet be free? Would you want free wi-fi in your city? Is it a nice idea, but it won't outlast the trial period? Should I have posted this in the Issues forum?

*Or the much more realistic look at it, here.


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Witless
post Aug 31 2006, 02:20 PM
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Free connections will probably start popping up all over (I hope), and will get faster too. Over in South Korea some of the major cities have free (brace yourselves) 100 meg broadband connections. Now.. me sitting here with my paid for 8 meg connection feels somewhat lame compared.
They got it because their cities were built with the digital era in mind. So high speed connection lines are built into the city infrastructure.

Will take longer for that kinda stuff over here, but we'll get there!


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Daria
post Aug 31 2006, 05:17 PM
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Whilst talking to some Dutch guy one evening in Holland, it turns out that some Dutch people have been given free fibre-optic stuff.

Yes, I realise this post is crap, but I can't remember the terminology and I am tired. T can fill you in, I was watching Snow Patrol at the time they were talking.


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snooodlysnoosnoo...
post Sep 2 2006, 05:07 PM
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I am using said wifi, I'm pretty much on the edge of the "catchment area" so it's a little bit iffy but it's free so I'm not going to complain! I've only had dial up since I moved here so it's not like I'm not really used to brilliant fast internet anyway.
Anyway, the official site is here for anyone who is interested.


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pgrmdave
post Sep 3 2006, 09:55 PM
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No, the internet should not be made free by the government, any more than phonelines are free. TANSTAAFL, someone down the line is paying for it. That typically means that the costs are spread over the masses so that people don't notice it as much, but I don't think that is right. I don't see the internet as a necessity like other utilities (gas, electricity, water). I'm perfectly happy with private institutions allowing free wireless, or some public locations (such as libraries), but I don't think that a government should be in the business of providing free internet access.


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That_Guy
post Sep 4 2006, 05:19 AM
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Huh. The town of Aurora in Illinois (Or was it one of the adjacent towns?) is getting free wifi over the entire town.


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Mata
post Sep 4 2006, 06:50 AM
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I read somewhere about a plan to install wifi access loops onto the tops of streetlamps, then have them powered by solar batteries. I have to say, I was very impressed by that idea; it definitely sounds like the future to me!

This said, I expected to be commuting with a jet-pack by now. I demand my jet-pack.


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Novander
post Sep 5 2006, 11:07 PM
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QUOTE (pgrmdave @ Sep 3 2006, 10:55 PM) *
I don't see the internet as a necessity like other utilities (gas, electricity, water). I'm perfectly happy with private institutions allowing free wireless, or some public locations (such as libraries), but I don't think that a government should be in the business of providing free internet access.

The internet isn't a necessity like gas, electricity and water; it's a necessity like roads are. It's part of our infrastructure these days.


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gothictheysay
post Sep 6 2006, 09:32 AM
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QUOTE
Huh. The town of Aurora in Illinois (Or was it one of the adjacent towns?) is getting free wifi over the entire town.


I used to live 15 minutes from there sad.gif


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pgrmdave
post Sep 6 2006, 04:12 PM
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QUOTE
The internet isn't a necessity like gas, electricity and water; it's a necessity like roads are. It's part of our infrastructure these days.


I disagree. I lived for the first 18 or so years of my life without regular internet access. I was able to get by using libraries (and yes, I would use their internet access occasionally) and other forms of entertainment. I can promise you that without the internet, you will not be physically harmed, but without roads, you may be (emergency vehicles may not be able to reach you in time). I do think that the government should provide internet access at certain locations - libraries, civic centers, and should push private institutions to provide free internet access, but ultimately, I don't think that my tax dollars should provide a service that is both currently served and can be better served by the private sector.


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Novander
post Sep 6 2006, 09:06 PM
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Firstly, for the first 18 years of your life, internet access was not such a big deal. Go back just ten years and much much fewer businesses would be online. Secondly, the private sector is better for internet connection and rightly so. I'd much rather pay for a fast internet connection than use a slower yet free connection, but not everyone has the luxury of choice.

I'm not saying that the government should, right this second, set up a wi-fi network covering the whole of the UK. I'm saying that I like the idea employed by Norwich city council, and would like to see similar systems set up in cities and towns all around the UK. Even if it's just city centres, that still gives small businesses a break.

Large businesses will still be paying for faster connections and wi-fi covering large residential areas is, for the most part, just a nice dream, so there would still be competition and innovation in the ISP industry. It's just that internet is becoming less and less a luxury and more and more a necessity.


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pgrmdave
post Sep 6 2006, 09:38 PM
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QUOTE
Firstly, for the first 18 years of your life, internet access was not such a big deal. Go back just ten years and much much fewer businesses would be online.


I'm 20 - just a few years ago wasn't that much different. I was in high school with no e-mail, no IM, no ability to do internet research from home.
QUOTE
Secondly, the private sector is better for internet connection and rightly so. I'd much rather pay for a fast internet connection than use a slower yet free connection, but not everyone has the luxury of choice.


Nearly all public libraries have access to the internet - they are free fast connections.

QUOTE
I'm saying that I like the idea employed by Norwich city council, and would like to see similar systems set up in cities and towns all around the UK. Even if it's just city centres, that still gives small businesses a break.


Businesses should pay for their services, not you and I. We shouldn't fund their internet. We don't pay for other services they use that are necessary, what makes the internet so much more important?

At what point do we accept that the government shouldn't interfere? They don't pay for our phone bills, or our electricity (although they help provide it). Why should the public subsidize a wireless network? There is already easily accessed internet at libraries, along with most other information. A suggestion my mother had was to create internet kiosks around cities similar to phone booths. Charge a nominal fee (again like a phone booth) for 10 - 30 minutes of use. Not only does it provide a way of paying for itself, but it is cheaper and simpler to implement.


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Sir Psycho Sexy
post Sep 7 2006, 03:06 AM
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QUOTE (pgrmdave @ Sep 6 2006, 10:38 PM) *
A suggestion my mother had was to create internet kiosks around cities similar to phone booths. Charge a nominal fee (again like a phone booth) for 10 - 30 minutes of use. Not only does it provide a way of paying for itself, but it is cheaper and simpler to implement.


That's by no means an original idea. There have been internet kiosks in and around cities and towns for a while now. I've never seen anyone using them mind you...ever, this is possibly why the idea hasn't been implimented in more places.


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Phyllis
post Sep 7 2006, 06:25 AM
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QUOTE (Sir_Psycho_Sexy @ Sep 6 2006, 08:06 PM) *
That's by no means an original idea. There have been internet kiosks in and around cities and towns for a while now. I've never seen anyone using them mind you...ever, this is possibly why the idea hasn't been implimented in more places.

Yeah, I've seen those in a lot of places. Haven't ever seen anyone using them, either. I think the ones I saw had a place to scan your credit card? Don't remember exactly. I wouldn't want to use the ones I've seen, though.

Dave, I'm sorry, but you lose the debate by default by saying "TANSTAAFL." That is the most ridiculous abbreviation ever. tongue.gif


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Mata
post Sep 7 2006, 11:47 AM
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I think a lot of the idea behind it is to do with the distribution of information.

Governments have to be seen to be operating in a manner that is as open as possible, and there have been very large, expensive initiatives to give people as much information as possible on websites.

Compare this then to the big, expensive physical mail-outs of information that are created by the government whenever they want to make sure that we know things. For the cost of printing and distributing one booklet to every household in the country you can probably connect a fair amount of cities to wireless access. If you then remember that this distribution network will be available again the next time you want to do a mail-out then you really begin to save money, and even if you only cover the cities that is millions and millions of pounds saved. Setting up a wireless network can be a way of saving tax money in the long run.

Information is so automated now that it is considered an essential aspect of adult life to be online. Yes, the old ways of doing things are still there, and people could still apply leeches when they're wounded in the hope that bleeding the injury will heal them, but there are now better ways of doing things and the government is trying to ensure that they are available to everyone.

I remember overhearing a conversation when I was on a tram in San Francisco. It was between two homeless guys who were discussing places to get shelter. One said to the other 'Are you online?' and the other replied, matter-of-factly, 'Of course' as if it would be daft that anyone, even the homeless, would not have access to the internet.


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pgrmdave
post Sep 7 2006, 09:31 PM
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QUOTE
Dave, I'm sorry, but you lose the debate by default by saying "TANSTAAFL." That is the most ridiculous abbreviation ever.


Darn. I knew that would hurt me tongue.gif

I suppose I'm just too fiscally conservative when it comes to government (it comes from growing up in a home where we had to pull ourselves out of debt in a state in deep debt in a nation in deep debt). I tend to want to make government smaller, with fewer programs, and less costly.


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