West Hollywood Goes WiFi

Some of the coolest news I’ve heard in a while just got sent out on the unwired list. West Hollywood is going wifi! Or rather, they are going to be making free wireless broadband available all over the city. Like Long Beach and Culver City have already done, we’re well on the way to having free wifi all over the city of angeles.

The city plans to choose an equipment supplier by late February. Construction of an initial network covering portions of Santa Monica Boulevard will begin soon after, and a citywide wireless broadband system could be in place in about two years, according to a request for proposals the city recently issued.

Like the authorities in immediate neighbor Culver City, and in cities like Philadelphia, civic leaders in West Hollywood think free broadband that uses relatively inexpensive and ubiquitous Wi-Fi wireless networks would enhance tourism, help businesses draw customers, make life easier for city employees and improve public safety.

While this is a super cool thing for “the people” it’s no surprise that companies who sell broadband such as SBC and Verizon aren’t so keen on the idea. In Pennsylvania Verizon paid off enough people conned enough people into passing a law that prevents city governments from providing services like this which totally screwed up plans in Philly. Keep that in mind if you need to to switch mobile providers anytime soon.

An SBC representative said the company has raised objections to other municipal buildouts in the past, but was unaware of any ongoing efforts in southern California. “We are not telling cities not to do this, but we just want them to know what they are getting into,” said an SBC spokesman.

What they are getting into? Yeah, listen up city government types – unless you want to start giving people and businesses a reason to come to your town, making them smile, get lots of posi street cred, and generally make life better for your residents, you’d better stay away from that whole free wireless stuff.