The ongoing debate about munipal wireless is should cities build the infrastructure themselves or should they outsource it to commercial providers. In the Washington area, two local governments are taking different approaches, according to the Washington Times. Alexandria recently spent $14,000 to build Wi-Fi infrastructure for an eight-block area along popular King Street. The network is not secure and doesn't really cover the businesses and residences along the corridor. "The signal may leak into the first floor of a restaurant, but it's not intended to be a secure linkfor constant business or residential use," said asst. city manager Mark Jinks. "With existing options to get broadband, we feel we don't need to compete with the private sector."
That's an approach that seems to placate commercial providers like Comcast and Verizon, which have opposed more aggressive municpal Wi-Fi plans, such as Philadelphia's.
Meanwhile in nearby Arlington County, the plan is to outsource the building of a network that would provide free or cheap Wi-Fi in 15 public places. "We don't want to be in a business of doing something the private sector can do better," Arlington County CIO Jack Belcher said.