Commentary

Another Unpleasant Muni Surprise

Hewlett Packard told the St. Cloud, Fla, City Council last week that it needs another $460,420 to fill in coverage gaps for its free citywide municipal wireless system, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting. The system, which has been plagued with coverage problems, crowded channels and user complaints since its March start-up, has already cost $2.6 million. The Sentinel reported that the city council was “surprised” to hear about the need for additional spending. Most of the cost, $236,920, will go to bring service to 14 neighborhoods that “slipped through a hole in the project.” It turns out that typically bad city planning was at fault. Although St. Cloud’s contract was signed last June, developers, who are ostensibly funding the project, didn’t have to begin paying until December. Right now, the city hopes that local developers will step up and cover the cost. The alternative is to dip into municipal coffers, which is how they deal with muni wireless overruns everywhere else. More about St. Cloud problems here.

Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.

Titch's work primarily focused on telecommunications, the Internet and new media. He is a former managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News (IT&T News) published by the Heartland Institute. His columns have appeared in Investor's Business Daily, Total Telecom, and America's Network, among others.

Prior to joining Reason in 2004, Titch covered the telecommunications industry as a journalist for more than two decades. Titch was director of editorial projects for Data Communications magazine where he directed content development for supplemental publications and special projects. He has also held the positions of editorial director of Telephony, editor of Global Telephony magazine, Midwest bureau chief of CommunicationsWeek, and associate editor-communications at Electronic News.

Outside of the telecom industry, Titch conducted rich media and content development for publishers and corporate marketing groups. He has also developed and launched his own web-based media, including SecuritySquared.com, an on-line resource for the security industry.

Titch graduated cum laude from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and English.