Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Technology Turkey

Who gets the gravy?

Not surprisingly, Trenton's City Council once again swallowed the Palmer party line and approved a contract with Florida based E-Path Communications to provide a city-wide wireless internet system. The Mayor himself made an appearance before Council to show his sincere support of this proposal, presumably to secure any possible wavering votes from the body.

It comes as no surprise that the majority of Council demonstrated once again their lack of ability to think and act independently by approving this ridiculous plan without doing their homework.

Fact: E-Path is barely a year old company that was the sole respondent for the city's ill advised RFP for a city-wide wireless network.

Fact: Larger, more established and experienced companies have repeatedly failed to find workable business models for providing this service in other, dare we say more affluent and thriving, communities around the country.

Fact: Offers of free help and consultations from outside parties were spurned by the Administration.

In article in the Trentonian, Mayor Palmer is quoted as saying:
“We envision a network that brings widespread, affordable Internet access to residents, students and teachers — and adds another important amenity for existing businesses and future economic development. In addition, E-Path will build, at no cost to the city, a separate, secure, dedicated network that the city will use for police, fire and emergency services, communications and all other city services.”

Interestingly familiar rhetoric that sounds a lot like what was said when companies were vying to get lucrative municipal cable franchises. Remember the promises of "low cost" and "access?" What are you paying for your cable access these days?

All the optimism and hope in the world cannot make this turkey of a deal palatable.

We need to look at who exactly is "E-Path Communications;" what their real plan is and who stands to gain the most from this contract.

Probably not the citizens of Trenton.


Irving Bertrand Clean said...

Nobody asked me, but:

1. My experience tells me that, as you'd once mentioned, the technology is just "not there yet." I've tried to use Philly's free wi-fi (among others), with disappointing results. All too often, the promise of free wi-fi is a case of "you get what you pay for."

2. Is there truly a need for this right now? How many people in the City (residents or workers) are without internet access due to the lack of free city-wide wi-fi service? Not many, I'm guessing.

3. I know of at least one downtown spot where one might want to crack open the notebook and go online, and this can be done, gratis. It says here that any business where people congregate to eat and drink for a while that doesn't throw out some free wi-fi is missing an important boat.

4. Is City Hall attempting here to satisfy an existing need, or create one that doesn't yet exist, while passing along the bill to John Q. Trentonian? I know, stupid question.

Old Mill Hill said...

You're absolutely right on all counts, Mr. Clean.

And you should have been asked, as well as the 84,000+ other residents of the City of Trenton.

Once again, some of our elected representatives and their appointed/annointed flunkies have failed us.

Anonymous said...

Do not fret Trenton! E-Path will fail to deliver and your fine city will prevail with a better company and better technology!