Over the past two decades the director of Monroe County's Department of Environmental Services, John Graham, has taken the initiative of installing fiber optic lines throughout our sewer systems at a rate of roughly two to three miles per year. We now have over forty miles of fiber optic network thanks to his efforts. The original purpose of this network was to control remote stations, but other possibilities have recently come to mind. Each cable contains between 48 and 144 glass fiber strands, a far greater capacity than needed for management of the sewer system. With the enormous bandwidth these lines are able to provide, the idea of it being put to use for free public wireless access has seized the public's imagination.
Were the county to sell excess capacity, it could easily bring in between $250,000 to $500,000 a year. In comparison, the total costs for cable have only been between $700,000 and $800,000. That spending has covered two decades of development. Installation costs have been kept minimal by installing lines during routine repair of the sewage pipes.
Brian Wirth, vice president for government and public affairs for Time Warner Cable, has raised the issue that expanding public access to the network could constitute competition with the private sector.
Were the network not opened to public access in one form or another, it could still prove an invaluable resource to the county: connecting area hospitals and government agencies, providing centralized control over our traffic systems, and giving rise to the skynet system that will ensure our fiery doom at the hands of android overlords.
The cost to fully extend the network throughout the county is estimated to be in the range of $4 million and $6 million.
With WiMAX nearing the market, it might be worthwhile for the city to wait and compare the relative costs of using that as a solution for free public wireless access before any major plans are made to expand our current fiber network for that purpose.
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2006-10-25 10:06:27 While on one hand, having a free, low speed wireless solution would be a great community thing, letting a government control internet access is a pandora's box. On pricipal alone, I have to say that government provided internet is a bad thing. Government needs to worry about laws, let businesses worry about business. —TravisOwens
2007-04-29 04:10:16 wow, a public offical actually thinking about the future —JohnJoseph
2007-08-18 16:55:00 On a related note, this is how Suoth Korea became one of the most wired nations in the world— because the government decided that to foster a burgeoning IT industry, they needed to provide the infrastructure for it. So I can definitely see how this would be beneficial for Rochester. —EugeniaHuang
2007-11-28 16:30:12 Travis Owens... wireless internet is vastly insecure unless you know how to set up and encrypt your network (not a ton of people do). Second, why should everyone settle for low speed when for the same price across the world, residents in japan have fiber optic 20-50x our internet speed and are paying the exact same cost? The cable companies charge way too much for the fiber optic technology and your "laissez faire" attitude is just a tool for pinning your problems on the government. If you want to pay $200 a month for a product that SHOULD be $40 a month, then you go right on ahead. —Ghaszkull/Jeff