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Non-Profit to Run Boston Wi-Fi? 104

isabotage3 writes to tell us that Boston, MA is toying with a somewhat unique approach to their version of the city-wide low-cost wireless network. Rather than put the network in the hands of a private organization under contract the city may allow a non-profit group to run the show. From the article: "Although Boston's strategy depends on the willingness of foundations and businesses to come forward with cash donations, officials believe having an existing or newly formed nonprofit in charge is the best way to ensure the project meets its civic goals and steers clear of special interests."
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Non-Profit to Run Boston Wi-Fi?

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  • by jbellis ( 142590 ) <jonathan@carnageblen d e r . com> on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:39PM (#15822158) Homepage
    submitter seems confused on that point.
    • Perhaps the article submitter is confused but I think this might be a good idea. If the idea is to avoid interference by special interests then establishing a non-governmental and non-profit organisation, or perhaps something like a co-operative, would be a compelling alternative to letting the telco/big-ISP inmates run the wireless asylum with all their ideas about bandwitch-shaping their competition out of their markets and such. It would also be infinitely better than letting a municipal govenrnment, u
  • Although Boston's strategy depends on the willingness of foundations and businesses to come forward with cash donations,
    Oh boy, is this going to be ugly.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @07:50AM (#15824051) Homepage Journal
      Maybe.

      But there are lots of foundations and philanthropists out there with lots of money, and all you really need is one. I've worked in the non-profit sector. The good news is that people with money understand using money to catalyze change: that's what investment is after all. In fact, that's the difference between asking for a small donation and a large one. You can ask for a small thing because it will help you get something worthy done. You can ask for a large thing if will change the way things get done.

      By their nature these sort of asks are unique animals. You need to research the donor, understand the foundation's mission or the donor's interests, and connect what you want to do to those things in a persuasive way. Only after you have done those things can you say whether the funding is likely or even possible.

      With respect to business, consider all the businesses that provide wi-fi access. Why do they do it? To attract customers from their competition. So, these businesses are going to be either against the effort, or indifferent to it.

      But the principle remains: a business may be interested in this because it attracts customers away from the competition. Except that the service would be for everyone in the city. So you need a business that is interested in the city vis a vis other cities.

      You want a real estate business.

      If this goes down, the most plausible way to do it will be to find some developer who has a mega-project that, as such projects do, requires a boatload of zoning variances. Normally you sit down and dicker with them over things like setting aside jobs for city residences, putting in amenities to offset problems, and, this is key, paying for improvements nearby infrastructure. Most of these things are the stuff the developer doesn't want to do, or is indifferent to. However, ubiquitous wireless may be, for some projects, a big plus.

      Maybe you're putting in a development with room for a hundred stores and office space for a hundred businesses. The free infrastructure might save each store and business a hundred dollars a more in infrastruture costs. Thats 200 businesses x 100 dollars/month or 20,000 per month, nearly a quarter million per year. Using the prime rate, the present value of a quarter million per year is about a million dollars. So chipping in a million dollars is a break even proposition for you. If it's a condition of building your project, you could perhaps be persuaded to contribute more, and may be more creative in finding ways to leverage the infrastructure to make more money.
    • A hint you should be familiar with:

      "Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation"
  • I know... (Score:3, Funny)

    by StressGuy ( 472374 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:45PM (#15822181)
    it will be comprised of a loosely connected network of underground providers running through the heart of Boston and be referred to as the "big beam". ...too obscure?

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:51PM (#15822209)
    Is this supposed to be Big Air version of the Big Dig?
    • I just got back from driving aroung Boston. If the WiFi is done with the same attention to basic common sense as the road (like marking detours all the way through, which they don't), it's sure to fail. A few months ago there was a graphic arts convention in Boston, and literally thousands were stranded at a convention center because of mismarked roads. It looks as though when the city hires planners and other management, they seem to think a three digit IQ means the applicant can count to three.
      • Ugh.. I had the misfortune to drive around Boston as well. Poor signage (exits without any kind of labels, or street name signs which tell you the intersecting road, but NOT the one you're on (I guess its not possible to end up on a large road and NOT know what one it is...) 4 lane roads with 2 lane roads running paraell on both sides, but with no obvious way to GET to those side roads... to say it was frustrating is an understatement.
  • Ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ender81b ( 520454 ) <billd@NOspaM.inebraska.com> on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:53PM (#15822214) Homepage Journal
    Someday all these cities are going to realize that wireless (b/g at least) was never ever designed to be deployed on such a scale and, really, works so pathetically horrible that I feel sorry for anyone using it.

    10-1 in about a decade we'll here stories about how these things were fraught with corruption, never worked right, waste of taxpayer money, etc, etc.

    Voice of experience.. I spent years at an ISP that tried to sell wireless and man, it just never ever works right for this type of thing (others in the industry will probably confirm this) without spending a whole lot of cash.
    • Re:Ugh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:59PM (#15822238)
      the only wireless i have had any good experience with working.. is custom microwave..

      we use a wireless connection which is line of sight microwave as a seondary connection and it has better uptime than our MCI t1.. (then again it is MCI.....)
      • Has microwave got any better? A company I worked with six years ago had a microwave link over about ... say 150 feet. (4th floor rooftop to 6th floor rooftop - we had office on either side of the street) ...

        From memory the link ran about 2mbps. Except when it rained, and throughput dropped a good 50%+, depending on the severity of the rain.

        • My home connection is through a Motorola Canopy microwave dish on the roof. I almost always get the 3 down / 1 up that i pay for, tech support is actually technical and the uptime is at least as good as cable was (www.mesanetworks.com).

          I'm about 3.5 miles from their base station. Rain doesn't seem to affect things, but heavy snow causes a slight increase in ping time (presumably due to retransmits) but not enough to really be noticable without timing it.
          • Ahhh, that would explain it - "light" usage would be fine ... the problem with our link was quite attributable in large parts to being 100% utilised, 24x7.
            • Re:Ugh (Score:3, Interesting)

              by grahamsz ( 150076 )
              I transferred 4 gigs onto our company vpn last night, my upload averaged 0.97mbit for many hours.
        • Re:Ugh (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Amouth ( 879122 )
          we have a 2mb up 2mb down link that sits around 60% saturation.. it is line of sight to the companys main building which is about 2 miles away.. even durring ice storms we didn't have much issue. (usability drop by about 20%) but over all considering the price (225$) i can't complain.. i wouldn't rely on it as a sole link .. the same way i wouldn't rely on the t1.. this is why we have both..

          they have gotten a lot better..
      • Yeah, the licensed spectrum stuff does actually work, and works fairly well.

        Of course... it's also expensive as all holy heck (but, comparable in the price to a t1 depending on where you are at in the country/equipment).
      • Microwave is great! Don't know about uptime, but it heats my food in notime!
    • Re:Ugh (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      what the hell are you babbling about? What is so terribly difficult about running a mesh-net of 802.11a/b/g/ AP's utilizing 802.1x? If you can deploy this solution with moderate success on a college campus, what is so difficult about a larger deployment? I am speaking from experience...
      • Re:Ugh (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Cowards all have tons of experience. I, personally, installed a wireless network under water off the Florida Keys for scuba divers. If that can be done, certainly Boston can have city-wide wi-fi!
    • If you think about it, 802.11B/G hardware is extremely cheap. Compare ~$30 for used WRT-54G on EBay with a $5000+ Starbucks/Cisco installation. Yes, you're right that B/G may be inappropriate for a municipal wireless network, but for as cheap as some of this equipment is, you can use it to your advantage anyway. There's an easy way to take control of you bandwidth, even if it takes a bit of financing to do it. Once it is there, there's no monthly service charge for your circuit, and you can do what you will
    • Voice of experience.. I spent years at an ISP that tried to sell wireless and man, it just never ever works right for this type of thing (others in the industry will probably confirm this) without spending a whole lot of cash.

      Confirmed.
      Wi-Fi was designed from the ground up as a short range physical layer protocol. With longer ranges, you have to take a lot of different extras in account, such as automatic power adjustment depending on the distance of a connection from a tower etc, which protocols like 3

    • Re:Ugh (Score:1, Troll)

      by jambarama ( 784670 )
      You are right, it isn't viable. Maybe when the 802.11n standard is finalized, municipal wifi will be a good idea.

      I know this sounds cliche, but it is true. With the gazillion FOR profit businesses out there, if municipal wifi made sense from a cost/benefit perspective anywhere on a wide scale, businesses would fall all over themselves to offer it. May with the "N" standard, it'll make sense (if businesses have a really good way to keep leechers off), then it is fine for cities to step in.

      OTOH thi
      • Totally wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

        by brunes69 ( 86786 )

        I know this sounds cliche, but it is true. With the gazillion FOR profit businesses out there, if municipal wifi made sense from a cost/benefit perspective anywhere on a wide scale, businesses would fall all over themselves to offer it.

        Er... the city gives it away for free because they fund it via other means (taxes, etc). A busines would have to charge. Your whole idea falls apart right there - I am *not* going to pay $20 a month for something I may use two days out of 30. BUt if its free and there, hey,

      • Do you live in the US?

        'Cause if so, congrats, you're subsidizing the Dig.

        Not that I'm proud of it, it's just that I feel that my fellow Americans should understand that no matter where you are, the Federal government is screwing you. Moving to another state won't help any more...
      • Ahh, but you ARE subsidizing the big dig; the federal government steals your money, and then gives it to MA. Nice huh?
    • Re:Ugh (Score:2, Informative)

      by borroff ( 267566 )
      But unless someone actually tries to make it work, we won't have any stories at all. I live in Boston, and would be affected by the program, and am strongly in favor of it. I also work in IT for a university in the area, so getting broadband access isn't much of an issue for me.

      As I understand it (I've got the task force report in front of me, but have not yet read it), they plan to use much of the dark fiber capacity as the backbone, and are looking for about $20M for the equipment buildout. The city wi
      • Oh i'm sure something good will come out of it, I just believe - in the end - it'll be a colossal waste of time and money. The city would be far better offering a $20/month broadband subsidy or something than trying to stuff.

        They'd actually be far better waiting for 802.11n (which was, you know, actually sortof designed for this problem) than trying to force a/b/g to work with it.
        • True - and I hope that n is encorporated - and they specifically mention Wi-Max in the docs. I haven't been keeping up - what's the time frame for 802.11n
  • Here we go again! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmulvey ( 233344 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:59PM (#15822237)
    If the City of Boston holds any strings whatsoever to the contact, it will surely be a union-driven morass of special kickbacks, perks, and hidden slush funds. They'll be lucky to provide 2400 baud links to a few hundred simultaneous users, after pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars in it.
  • WIIFB (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bender0x7D1 ( 536254 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:04PM (#15822255)
    What's in it for business?

    While it is nice to think that businesses will just donate the money to the project, 99% of businesses want to know what the benefit to their bottom line is. There is an incentive to businesses to provide local wireless, as it draws people to their location. There is also incentive if they get some public recognition - think advertising. Yes, some do it for "goodwill" but I don't see that being as big a factor in a city like Boston, (as opposed to a smaller town), where there are a lot of businesses competing for the same goodwill. That means businesses are going to want to run their ads in return for their donations, making for an annoying wireless environment.

    I think it would have been a great idea 7 years ago where companies were spending money on anything to do with tech, but I think will fail in today's economic climate.
    • Re:WIIFB (Score:3, Funny)

      by StikyPad ( 445176 )
      I doubt funding would be an issue... There's a sucker born every minute.
      • There's also National Public Radio, which has been doing this with radio for decades. It's listener supported. Basically, they could have a WiFi fun drive, wherein they get the thing going and it pops a webpage up on people's screen before they can use the internet. It asks for a donation and a login. Once they make a donation, they don't have to see the screen until next year (members). People who haven't donated might have the screen pop up every 10 hours or so of use, and they can just dismiss it.
    • Re:WIIFB (Score:3, Insightful)

      What's in it for business?

      • cheaper internet access
      • a selling point for realtors
      • a selling point for the tourist industry
      • a tax write off

      I don't think this will be a hard sell, depending upon the implementation. It is not all that different from our county's wireless project which has not had problems pulling together funding from local universities, real estate agencies, businesses, and private donors.

    • Can you think of another better way for Big Brother to watch your every move on the Internet? Give it away free - every one will want that and then monitor where they are going, who they contact on a regular basis, what inet-stores they shop at, etc., etc. Imagine the revenue from a database like that!
  • Something new ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dYnkYn ( 992384 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:05PM (#15822259) Homepage
    We have many similar example in Switzerland. Every important city is covered by a free wireless network. In many case, the provider is a non-profit organization.

    The best example is the city of Lausanne, Olympic Capital. There are many Wi-Fi access point at each main squares. The provider is SIL service multimédia, a department of the Industrial Services (belonging to the city) which is clearly non-profit organization.

    So, there is definitely no revolution!

    More infos:
  • Big Brother (Score:5, Interesting)

    by B_un1t ( 942155 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:24PM (#15822346) Journal
    I know this sounds like a great idea, but I'm skeptical. Would the government have an easier time monitoring, or pulling the strings to monitor, such a network than a for-profit one?
    • They probably wouldn't have any harder of a time in either case; if anything, recent history has shown that the biggest obstacles to over-reaching bureaucrats are ... other bureaucrats. Or at least that the public sector in some cases can be a lot more respectful of individual rights than the private, in the face of inappropriate government "interest," e.g. librarians.

      Sometimes it's easier to stand up and do the Good Thing when you don't have a giant profit motive to get in the way.

      Also, although I'm no adv
    • Depends how it's run. The good non-profits run everything as an open book - all accounts published, all decisions made in public view, the only things kept secret are the identities of donors who don't want to be named. It's impossible to corrupt one of those and hide it.

      Government-driven non-profits that keep everything secret, like a typical corporation, are easily manipulated but then they're often pork-barrel affairs from the outset - a way of shifting money to people for political reasons.

      (Non-governme
    • The government would have an easier time with the non-profit, simply because non-profits have less incentive to "play the system to the hilt for what it's worth" and "bend the rules to the breaking point and beyond", whereas for-profits are notorious for doing just that.

      Also, since Municipal WiFi is about giving Internet access to the people, a non-profit is a logical choice because the people will be more inclined to support it. Of course, it would have to be well-managed to garner and keep that support, b
  • by jasonditz ( 597385 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:28PM (#15822363) Homepage
    Why not private individuals?

    As with most things, if this is really something people want, they will be willing to chip in and help pay for it.

    If some non-profit in my town were planning something like this, I'd probably donate to it.

    • Why not start one.
      A lot of communities have done that.
      They incorporate a group so there is a not for profit entity to carry it and give it a goal and ways of looking after members,
      and then people start to build it and share information about building nodes and hooking up.
    • Non-profit doesn't automatically make it government owned.

      Wikipedia and the Ubuntu foundation are non-profit organizations, but have nothing to do with any government agency.

      Red Cross... Salvation Army... These groups have founders, board of directors, and technically a group of people that "own" (perhaps manage is a better term) the non-profit organization.
      • Wikipedia and the Ubuntu foundation are non-profit organizations, but have nothing to do with any government agency.
        Red Cross... Salvation Army... These groups have founders, board of directors, and technically a group of people that "own" (perhaps manage is a better term) the non-profit organization.
        The NFL is a non-profit. Although I suppose there is an argument that it is an arm of the governement... or vice versa.
  • by drewzhrodague ( 606182 ) <drew@noSpaM.zhrodague.net> on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:40PM (#15822416) Homepage Journal
    This is a great idea -- why have a for-profit company running a free wireless network? It doesn't happen (often). Here in Pittsburgh, a non-pennsylvanian company earned the contract to run the city's 'free (for 2 hours)' wireless network (for profit). Free wireless networks don't come from for-profit companies, unless they realize that the service enhances their business. This is the kicker. People don't want to pay for 'net. People use the net, and you could makes things easier for them. And me!
    • This is not a free wireless network:
      Boston's proposal aims to reduce the price of broadband Internet access for city residents from an average of roughly $40 a month to $15 by having the nonprofit act as a wholesale seller of network capacity to existing sellers of Internet access. Those companies could offer low-cost or free ad-supported online connections.

      This non profit will be selling access to their network directly to companies like Comcast.
  • by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:42PM (#15822424) Homepage Journal
    I worked at a nonprofit (job training for adults and teens) for a couple of years. We got our funding from the federal and state governments, which meant that not only did we face the red tape that government agencies face, we couldn't always do the things in the best interest of our organization or target population. Everything in a nonprofit is about getting as much money as possible in the next government grant or donation, which meant that we would burn through extra cash purchasing stuff we didn't need, just like government agencies do. After all, if you don't use it, you obviously don't need it and won't get it the next time around.

    People that think that nonprofits avoid the issues that corporations face need to look at OIC in Milwaukee. Lots of corruption and wasted money for something that was a good idea gone wrong.

    I'd much rather see open competition between private corporations for city-wide wireless access. Due to competition, it's far more likely to be high quality and low cost for end users.
  • by Dryanta ( 978861 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:45PM (#15822437) Journal
    The buildout will cost millions, all be obsolete by 2010, (http://www.wimaxforum.org/home/) and even with just 1.5mb/256k pipes, wireless does not scale well to more than a couple hundred users at best per cell site. The non-profit will be able to get cheaper pipes, and wholesale the bandwidth... but at that point, you may as well get a larger interest in there because then at least the build-out is paid for. A non-profit will not account for the budget of competent wifi engineers and technicians, which is a lot different than normal traditional network engineers and technicians. The skillset is more small-scale embedded systems configuration and administration than rip/ospf on big beefy routers. Because the field has only been around for a few years, most of the smart people have already been snapped up by these 'interests' TFA references. There are several reasons non-profits are not fit for the task: Wifi is more labor-intensive than traditional ISPs in the sense of field personnel, for installations and service calls. Much of the equipment is prone to failure, and normally is hanging 60' or so in the air. Weather like Boston has is absolutely murder on the equipment. Stuff freezes, water gets in the fittings, the antennas corrode... Maintenance most likely is not as large a provision in a small donation-only budget. The total amount of bandwidth utilized is not the greatest problem, so much as the harmonization of the spectrum caused by everybody using the access points. Also, the small embedded boards can only pass so many packets through so many interfaces before they choke up. Because of this scalability problem with wireless, it's just hard to make profitable. The delicate balance of bandwidth vs cpu/ram vs spectrum is very hard to maintain. If they are intending on it being free or low-cost, this only exacerbates the problem... because now the non-profit would be taking a hit where the independant provider would be in the black. They should do it like Sacramento wireless, actually making it like a city utility like water or trash, but outsourcing all of it. There is more profit for the independant operator AND the municipality that way. Bottom line, the consumers best interests would assuredly be best served by a larger corporation with a few muni networks under it's belt fulfilling the contract vs a non-profit.
  • Free wi-fi is anything but free.

    It is paid for by tax payers.

    Anything paid for by taxpayers is subjected to government scrutiny and control. Sooner or later the government agency in charge of the local wi-fi will start to exert control over what is defined as "obcene" or "offensive". When offensive material is found, it will be banned.

    First thing will be "no child pr0n", followed by no "regular pr0n", followed by "no [whatever we feel is a bad thing]....

    It will only take a few elections before who ever is in charge will decide what is deemed as "viewable".

    Sooner or later the "opposition" will be "unviewable".

    The government "SHOULD NOT BE" in control of any medium related to speech.

    I do not trust my government anymore....

    • Now, I'm pretty suspicious of the government these days, and I cry foul at censorship, but Free Wifi = Censorship is a pretty damn big leap.
    • I also don't trust my government, at least at the federal level, but I have noticed that the political insanity gets much less severe at lower levels of government. After all, "absolute power corrupts absolutely," so extrapolating backwards a smaller amount of power corrupts less. This is why (I think) you see things like city governments trying to offer free Wi-Fi to their citizens but being blocked by laws passed by the lobbyists of large telecoms. The local government has found a way to help its constitu
    • who the hell wants to look at pr0n in a free public WiFi hotspot anyway? Honestly, do it in the privacy of your own home, you sicko ;)

    • Well, good thing that we have corporations, who provide us internet access with no controls whatsoever and would never, ever, restrict what we do with it.
  • Much too dangerous for Texan. Security may only guarenteed by large telecoms.
  • "...officials believe having an existing or newly formed nonprofit in charge is the best way to ensure the project meets its civic goals and steers clear of special interests."

    Earth to the do-gooders, a nonprofit is just as special interest as anyone else, potentially more so, as by labeling itself a non-profit, it automatically deflects scrutiny and skepticism.

  • by mrs clear plastic ( 229108 ) <allyn@clearplastic.com> on Monday July 31, 2006 @11:34PM (#15822617) Homepage
    Here in my pocket, I've got just the non-profit who should be able to pull this off. The Boston Museum of Science has been there for a long time and they seem to have some good qualifications.

    The Science Museum (which it is called by many) has been around for a while. It has been very non-controversal (at least since my childhood in the 60's growing up in Winchester and going to the museum almost every week for the shows). It is also, IMHO, very non-political.

    I am not aware of any scandals or controversy that involved the Science Museum.

    They are also very technially savvy; they's been teaching science for all these years, including some of my own education in electronics.

    Perhaps the most important attribute is that they have deep, solid roots in the area. They have quietly outlasted other institutions (and politicians) in the area. The Science Museum is one of those institutions that would be still standing even after the rest of Boston caves in and collapses.

    The mayor should realise that if he turned the keys of this project over to the Museum of Science, they would have a lot to lose if they did a f**k up on this.

    Luv

    Cleara
    • The Science Museum is one of those institutions that would be still standing even after the rest of Boston caves in and collapses.

      Thanks to the Mass. Turnpike Authority, this theory might be tested soon.
    • If the Science Museum is as cautious, non-controversial, and inoffensive as you make it out to be (and IMO I agree with you, it certainly does seem like they're pretty clean), who says they'd want anything to do with the project?

      Frankly something like this could go south in a hurry. There are a huge number of uncertainties, ranging from sheer technical feasibility (that's one of the easy questions) to much more complex issues of maintainance budgeting, operating a huge service fleet, and all the associated
  • Normally, I'd be all for a public non-profit taking over the system, but with something so new and potentially a "waste of taxpayer money," it'd be better to contract the system to a private vendor for 2-3 years and let them get it started. When the contract is up, offer the people who took care of it government (well, city) jobs as its caretakers (if they did a good job, obviously).
  • This can only end in fire...
  • There are other groups running community wireless networks all around the world.
    Air-Stream.org is one in Adelaide Australia, but yay for Bostonians starting a new project.
    http://air-stream.org/ [air-stream.org]
  • It would be good if it goes well and succeeds. Might set a precedent for a free internet.
  • As someone currently working and typing this from my office building in Boston, I'm a bit worried about this. I've already had enough nightmares working in Boston with the tunnel collapsing, and there's enough corruption even beyond the big dig. No matter who ends up trying to implement this it's going to cost a lot of money, which Boston has already spent way too much of. I heard on the radio this morning that Boston is going to start fining non Boston residents that are at fault for accidents in Boston be
  • ...in Lawrence, Kansas. Lawrence Freenet [lawrencefreenet.org] is operational and giving the local mega-media broadband company a run for their money.
  • And I quote:

    A task force on Monday recommended that Mayor Thomas Menino assign an as-yet unidentified nonprofit to raise the $16 million to $20 million in private money that the city estimates it will need to build and begin running the Wi-Fi network.

    Furthermore...

    Boston's proposal aims to reduce the price of broadband Internet access for city residents from an average of roughly $40 a month to $15 by having the nonprofit act as a wholesale seller of network capacity to existing sellers of Internet access.

  • it's worth noting that the non-profit in question would be operating only the network - it would be up to local businesses to market & resell the service to end-users. so in this model, the non-profit entity handles most or all of the tech to transmit right up to the outside wall of building x; a local reseller signs up residents of building x, sells whatever equipment those people may need (antennae, repeaters, whatever), and handles billing, support, etc. that's briefly mentioned in TFA, but it's an
  • First a point of information: The Big Dig was primarily a Commonwealth / Federal project. The city of Boston had comparatively little input. The purpose of the Big Dig was to primarily benefit suburban commuters and people going to and from the airport and other traffic passing through from the north or the south. That being said ---
    About any Massachusetts initiative

    You can look at your history books and recent newspapers and know that NOTHING is free of political special interests in Boston.

    The Mayor seems

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