Free Broadband For Someone
Last week, AEPCO, (Advanced Engineering and Planning Corporation, Inc., of Gaithersburg, MD) agreed to provide free WiFi to the new town center of Rockville. If you haven't visited the location, you must. For a mix of shopping and culture, it's quite pretty. Although it doesn't measure up to the walking districts of towns and cities throughout Europe, it's a huge step up for anything that Rockville has had in the past. And kudos to putting the library right in the center. (But I will add my voice to those against naming it after a politician.)
No map has been made available, but the vague description suggests that the WiFi footprint will be similar to what is already available in Silver Spring. Here is the announcement from the city of Rockville.
Eventually, AEPCO plans to install WiFi service elsewhere in Rockville (perhaps even throughout) but residents will have to pay for the expanded service area. No prices have been made available. The announcement also notes "will allow for paid subscriptions for residents and businesses that want to have a higher bandwidth and a higher quality of service for indoor areas within Town Square." So, it will be a low-bandwidth connection. And users will need to re-authenticate (the announcement mentions an initial splash screen with advertising) periodically, making lengthy connections (e.g., substantial downloads) unlikely with the free service.
But for Rockville residents, this is a good thing. Not only does it make the town center more attractive but it suggests that there will be competition for internet service in Rockville. But before we start celebrating, note the time schedule: AEPCO has indicated that citywide expansion could occur within 24 months after service begins in Town Square. Within? Why does that sound like speeds up to 5Mb!
Free Broadband For Everyone
I live next to Glen Echo, the smallest town in Montgomery County (population: 221). It's a cozy place (how many towns have their own 86-year old carousel and Wurlitzer band organ?) and I frequently bike through it and always enjoy reading their newspaper, the Echo.
The current edition of the Echo has a curious item - the town was recently approached by the Coalition for Free Broadband and asked to write a letter to the FCC supporting the Coalition's proposal - that a nationwide network be established for free wireless internet access. The company behind this, M2Z Networks, claims that with 20MHz of currently-unused spectrum, they can offer "fast, free and family friendly broadband to 95 percent of the US population within ten years and pay 5% of gross revenues from its subscription services [insert lots of handwaving here].
M2Z has an application for the spectrum pending before the FCC and are looking for support. To my surprise, the Echo article says that "the Montgomery County Council and County Executive have agreed to support the Coalition's proposal."
Anyone know any more about this?