The founder and managing director of the biggest national consultancy for municipal wireless systems has ripped left-wing activists in San Francisco for their attempts to get the city dump its deal with EarthLink and Google and pursue a multi-million dollar, taxpayer-financed city-owned wireless network. In what amounts to a repudiation of San Francisco’s chapters of the Institute of Self-Reliance, Media Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union, Greg Richardson, head of Civitium, which provides consulting services for cities that are pursuing and evaluating municipal wireless systems, accused both groups of promoting a political agenda at the expense of a sound business plan that would create a metropolitan wireless system that could provide free service to low-income residents. Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to put the EarthLink-Google contract on hold in order to study the feasibility of a government-owned system. As a result, many feel that EarthLink and Google will ultimately pull out. Civitium was hired by San Francisco to evaluate the bids for its citywide wireless plan. The company also is working with Chicago, Corpus Christi, Tex., Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix. A list of client cities is available here. “For the record, Civitium supports private-ownership of Wi-Fi for San Francisco, and we support the recommendations for public-ownership of fiber (with an open, wholesale model) presented by our partner, CTC,” Richardson wrote Feb. 14 on Civitium’s blog.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.