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The Times O.C. edition covered a story this week about a development that could have a huge impact in Santa Ana. It appears that the City of Santa Ana is finally looking at a setting up a citywide wi-fi network. The hang-up apparently was the Edison company. They have finally agreed to allow Earthlink to run a limited trial on 45 of their streetlight poles.
Here is what the Times article had to say about this, “The state’s second-largest power utility has agreed to let EarthLink Inc. build a small network using Edison streetlights in Santa Ana as part of a wider-ranging trial of wireless gear. “This is long overdue,” said Esme Vos of MuniWireless.com, an authority on such high-speed wireless projects. “Edison has been the biggest stumbling block for Southern California cities.”
That is ironic. Edison has always been highly involved in the O.C. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and yet they held up something that could change the lives of the people of Santa Ana – for the better. According to the Times, the wi-fi antenna technology has been proven to work and it does not disrupt power poles or streetlights. Edison still may hold up the deal as they figure out how much they want to charge the city or the wi-fi provider to lease space on their poles.
Here’s a thought – why not donate the use of the light poles to the City of Santa Ana? Our city really needs a wi-fi network. We have only one library, but providing wireless access to the Internet would essentially give anyone in our city the ability to get online and thereby access a global network of information.
Moreover, the Santa Ana Unified School District already makes use of the Internet. My 14 year old son has to log into a school site to download homework. I don’t know how widespread this practice is, as he attends a fundamental school. However, I am sure that there are a lot of families who would appreciate being able to access the Internet at a lower cost, without having to wire their homes.
When I have raised this issue in the past, I have been attacked by those who believe that poor families in Santa Ana cannot afford computers. Not true! There is a Goodwill store over on the west side of the city that sells used computers at a very low price. Sure, they are older towers, but they work. They would have to be outfitted with a wireless card – and I am sure Goodwill could do that if the city was providing a wi-fi network.
Businesses could also donate more of their older computers to Goodwill – making it a convenient place for Santa Ana families to pick up reasonably priced computers. Right now many people are dumping their computers in order to buy new ones that can handle the new Microsoft Vista operating software. What a great time for them to donate their older computers to Goodwill!
The one issue I am concerned about is the fact that Santa Ana city officials are talking to Earthlink. Our readers may recall that I objected when the City of Anaheim signed a deal with Earthlink. Why? Because they hired Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle’s former employee, Jeff Flint (seen at left with fellow OC GOP consultant, John Lewis – they are grinning because of all the money they are making via their political connections), to lobby the city. I really hate it when politicians and their buddies game the system to stuff their wallets.
It is a well-known fact that Pringle is a friend of Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido. It is not far-fetched to imagine that Pringle asked Pulido to direct his city’s attention to Earthlink. Presumably Flint stands to enrich himself again.
Are there other options? Of course. I recall that Google.com set up a wi-fi network in the Bay Area for FREE. The network was advertising-supported. Why not look at that option for Santa Ana?
I also read about a wi-fi system in Europe that uses solar cells to power itself. The solar cells also provide power to the streetlights. The system pays for itself!
I hope that the City of Santa Ana will really shop around their proposed wi-fi network instead of doing Pringle’s bidding in order to compensate his amigo, Flint. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen…