The muni loonies are at a loss. Despite the fact that municipal wireless is breaking out all over, it’s not going the way it is supposed to. In San Francisco, Google has proposed to build municipal network at no cost to the city and offer free service to consumers to boot. Yet organizations such as Media Alliance and Community Technology Foundation of California, which have long-demanded cheap broadband alternatives for those who can’t afford incumbent prices, say that approach is all wrong. Instead, they want broadband service through a taxpayer-funded, bureaucratic, non-competitive city agency that runs eternal deficits. Rather than experiment with bold market-based initiatives that might provide free broadband Internet access, these groups are pushing for same types of systems that have done little but drain the resources of Dalton,.Ga.; Ashland, Ore.; Lebanon, Ohio; and Provo, Utah.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.