In planning TechConnect, SF should look to London

British consul general points SF officials to the model of Westminster, where portable, roaming services are available and conflicts with the private sector are minimal.

San Francisco's TechConnect Initiative is unique in the US, in that it specifies portable and  mobile broadband connectivity. That's why the city should look not to other US cities but to London, writes Martin Uden, the British consul general in San Francisco, in the SF Chronicle. The Westminster City Council adopted a phased approach that is flexible enough to use new technologies as they become available.

San Francisco might likewise recognize that each wireless technology has a role to play. Bringing them together in a creative fashion is key to enabling broadband access with citywide roaming, especially for a coverage area made challenging by San Francisco's many spectacular hills.

Uden also emphasizes the importance of public-private partnerships. In Westminster's case the Wireless City Partnerhsip avoided many of the conflicts we've seen in the States when local governments start talking about  providing services. 

The partnership is carrying forward a plan to use city street lamps to host both Wi-Fi network transmitters as well as equipment to extend coverage into areas that might otherwise have been broadband dead zones. Approaching a public-private partnership strategy with openness and creativity can be the key to long-term success of any municipal broadband project, including San Francisco's TechConnect Initiative.