Free Wi-Fi For All of Los Angeles?
Have ever you dreamed having data streaming through your laptop, iPad or smartphone almost anywhere in L.A. without giving Time-Warner Cable, AT&T or Verizon your lunch money for it?
Stig Nygaard / Flickr
L.A. city Councilman Bob Blumenfield has had that dream too. And he's proposing that the city of Los Angeles study what it takes to do what San Jose, Houston and Minneapolis have done: Provide citizens with free wi-fi:
The city's Innovation, Technology and General Services Committee got a look at the proposal yesterday but didn't make any moves. The matter was continued to a date to be determined.
Blumenfield said in a statement sent to the Weekly and other outlets late yesterday:
Expanding access to WiFi will benefit our City in numerous ways, from helping to close the digital divide for students to reducing start-up costs for new businesses. Today we've taken the first next steps towards reaching that goal.
In his proposal, Blumenfeld says that in those cities with free wi-fi ...
... residents who cannot afford private high-speed services can have access to the Internet. Businesses and visitors have information and services at their fingertips, City employees who are out in the field can access data directly. Government can become more modem, open, transparent and efficient
In this nation of haves and have nots the digital divide is deafening. Want to apply for a job? You need internet access. Want to speak to your political representatives? The same. Want to pay a utility or phone bill last-minute? Yep.
We won't cross our fingers, however. Those tech giants that control the data pipelines are good at influencing politics in ways that enrich themselves while fleecing the voters.
We hope the City Council has the fortitude to resist them, but if history is an indication, it will not. In any case, Blumenfield is speaking like a true man of the people on this issue:
Technology, such as the Internet, email, and wireless tools has a huge impact on our daily lives and connects us to the world.
Godspeed, councilman. The future awaits.