Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Free" Wireless?

...and the cow jumped over the moon. Somebody did NOT ask all the right questions here.

Looking to give poorer students the technological muscle to scale the "digital divide," the Milwaukee Public Schools district is turning to the promise of an emerging wireless service described as "Wi-Fi on steroids."

Using WiMax, MPS would provide free broadband Internet service to the homes of all MPS students and staff

...Davis estimated that the test system MPS is developing would cost about $500,000. The district is to contract with a vendor to provide the equipment and installation.

The Milwaukee Area Instructional Network, including MATC, MPS and UWM, has been allocated a $440,000 grant from the federal Department of Commerce to pursue the WiMax system.

The two colleges declined to participate, however, and only MPS agreed to kick in the $220,000 for the local match in that grant program.

With the reduced local match, Davis estimated that the federal contribution would be $200,000.

Even if one concedes that Internet access is a "must have" for educational achievement (which would be news to anyone older than, say, 35 years of age) and even if one concedes that "it's for the children, so let's do it, (regardless of that little $400+K "Free of Cost" contradiction)---



Phelony Jones said...

The costs for this could potentially be astronomical. I weighed in, too.

M.Z. said...

There is no additional cost to include staff. I won't claim its great or lousy idea, but cutting staff off from that network wouldn't save a dime from the project.

Jay Bullock said...

What M.Z. said . . .

Plus one more: MPS is encouraging us to use the network from home, to do grades, find parent contact info, and more. One of the reasons why they currently offer us free dialup is so that we can work at home.

I wouldn't use the wireless, even if free, because I don't want the district to know where I surf on my own time. But if I needed to login to check attendance info or something, it would be handy to have.

Dad29 said...


I understand that there is no incremental cost in adding "staff" to the system--except, of course, for putting it up in the first place, and maintaining it.

That's simply NOT "free."

It is curious, though, given that the entire City of Milwaukee will be wireless-enabled in the next 2 years or so. Why ANOTHER wireless system?