Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Wi-Fi Deal Dead

By - Sep 8th, 2006 04:49 pm

The City of Milwaukee’s protracted deal with Midwest Fiber Networks to give us city-wide wireless internet service is dead, according to the office of Ald. Michael J. Murphy. The city removed the exclusivity language in its contract that had been sought by Midwest.

This February the city approved Midwest Fiber’s plan to wire the city, using Milwaukee’s virtually unique conduit system, although a final contract was never signed.

This probably makes good sense, since Midwest Fiber apparently did not have any experience or the resources to do the job. [See the www.milwaukeeworld.com posting entitled “Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts,” one of this department’s rare forays into prophecy.]

However, the Barrett administration pushed the project forward, much as it had its electrified bus system and PabstCity, which also never came to fruition. This must be a stunning defeat for the south end of the second floor of City Hall.

Ald. Murphy’s office tells milwaukeeworld that negotiations have been conducted with Earthlink and that he is still willing to talk to “any and all” others with the financial resources to get the job done. It is possible the city will let multiple contracts, or work with joint ventures.

A decent wireless network, and particularly high speed broadband of the sort that does not exist in this country as it does in such places as South Korea or India, is necessary for Milwaukee to compete in the world economy. Any advantage of time that Milwaukee may have had in implementing its proposal to become one of the first “wired” cities in the nation has been lost.

However, Murphy is optimistic. “Milwaukee is still poised to be among the first cities in the nation to deploy this technology.”

This article was originally published by Milwaukee World.

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