Category Archives: Wireless

New District 1 Council member, wireless Internet and Montel

It has been six months since all seven City Council seats were filled. That ends Tuesday — probably. Using paper ballots, Council members will choose between five District 1 candidates. On the list are Eugene Anderson, Treatha Brown-Foster, Michael Kinard, George Rogers and Lavonta Williams. First one to get a majority (four votes) wins.

City Council members have already privately held interviews with each of the candidates. At the Council meeting Tuesday, people will see only short monologues from the candidates before the voting begins. But this event might get pushed back a little so that Mayor Carl Brewer can zip over the Center for Health and Wellness to welcome talk show host Montel Williams. (See The Eagle’s story about Williams’ visit.) Brewer said several times Friday that the District 1 seat is his top priority despite the hoopla with Montel.

The new District 1 member, who will be sworn in a week later, will soon get thrown into the debate over luring a citywide wireless Internet provider to the city. Tuesday, the Council will vote on whether to invite the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to conduct an evaluation of the request for proposals the city let months ago, which only drew five proposals. The Council’s poised to approve that. What will follow is meeting of the Knight Foundation’s Jorge Martinez, City Council, Sedgwick County Commissioners and the Wichita School Board. Each government entity would be an anchor customer of the wireless company.

See more on the Knight Foundation’s role in wireless.

For more, see a PDF of Tuesday’s City Council agenda reports.

Baby steps toward citywide wireless Internet

A little more than three weeks ago, City Council members decided not to start negotiating a deal with Michigan-based wireless Internet company Azulstar for citywide wireless service. Instead, the Council appointed members Paul Gray and Jeff Longwell to travel to a couple cities that already have an Azulstar wireless system to see how well it performs firsthand. But that’s not happening yet, either.

Longwell says that the two cities he and Gray were going to visit — Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Rio Rancho, New Mexico — aren’t fully functional. City officials in Rio Rancho have vented frustrations about Azulstar’s service and failure to meet contractual obligations. Meanwhile, Winston-Salem’s system has yet to be built. Longwell said setbacks in these cities further justify the Council’s cautious approach. “I don’t think we’re doing a disservice to the public by dragging our feet a little bit,” he said in a conversation with The Hall Monitor this week. Longwell hopes to see how Azulstar reacts to the complaints they’re facing before moving ahead with contract talk. Futhermore, he says, the city may benefit by waiting as new technologies surface. You can’t wait forever because there will always be something new, he said, but in this case a slow approach may be best. “There’s no reason for us to get too excited,” he said. “It’s not like anybody is dramatically ahead of us.” Longwell said the issue will likely be discussed at the June 12 Council meeting.

For more on Rio Rancho’s problems, see this story.
For an update on Winston-Salem, check this one out.
For an overview of problems cities are having with wireless Internet, check out this AP story.

Wireless in Wichita? Brewer hints at it

He’s not giving details. Not about who he’s talking to. Not about what type of wireless system they’d try to bring in. But mayoral candidate Carl Brewer has said he’s in discussions with an undisclosed company about a wireless internet deal that could allow Wichitans to browse the web while having a picnic at the park or sipping coffee at home.

And he’s not just talking about the wireless that City Manager George Kolb has discussed with the Council to allow city workers to do work on the road. (See the PowerPoint here.) The Council decided against that plan with Sedgwick County and the Wichita School District. But Brewer says this idea would allow access for anyone with a computer — not just government employees.

It’s a popular idea nationwide. For example, the Los Angeles Times recently reported that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to make L.A. the biggest wireless network around. Also noteworthy, a story in The Eagle this week pointed out that large wireless networks also have their problems with privacy.