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Dec 06

Wireless Washtenaw and the City of Ypsilanti

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

If the Ypsilanti City Council acts the way you and I think they are going to act, they are going to pass and sign a resolution supporting Wireless Washtenaw’s initiative to bring free and low-cost internet service to Washtenaw County.

My sources tell me the information City Council has is incomplete. If you read the twelve-page agreement, the attachment, and the schedule, you’ll see the information is incomplete. My sources also tell me there has been no discussion between council members on this topic. Finally, this is also the last group of people you would ever want to see creating legislation involving wireless anything. That’s not meant to be mean, but if you’ve ever heard the Mayor discuss computers, you know just what I’m talking about.

The agreement is a bad idea for a lot of reasons. The very biggest reason this is a bad idea is because it limits my freedom of choice.

If you live in the City, you have only the choice of Comcast as your cable provider. The reason for this is Ypsilanti (along with Ann Arbor) signed an agreement to give Comcast exlcusive rights to Ypsilanti (and Ann Arbor). In exchange for this sweet deal, Comcast pays the City of Ypsilanti $125K a year. If there are 6,000 households in Ypsi, the City has effectively sold my freedom of choice for $20.83. As a result, my cable costs have gone up about 15% each year since I’ve lived in my house. That, and Comcast’s service sucks. One could almost call this $125K the City gets a type of tax since Comcast passes their costs (and much, much more) on to me. One could almost call this the Bad Deal Negotiated by Amateurs Tax.

With that being said, if the City of Ypsilanti were to sign this agreement, they would again be signing away my rights. I must be perfectly clear in stating this would not prevent private companies from setting up wireless service here, but it would prevent them from partnering with the City. That’s the whole point of this agreement. Wireless Washtenaw doesn’t want to give the City any opportunity to partner with anyone else. That’s what this is ultimately about.

The Wireless Washtenaw web site makes no reference to any other cities that have signed this agreement. Wireless Washtenaw has no track record. What’s the point of signing an exclusive agreement now? There’s no reason to believe this won’t be a good idea in the future, but why sign on before the service even exists? What is the harm in waiting for Wireless Washtenaw to develop a track record?

What frustrates me most in all of this is that this is the way City Council operates. They are going to make a decision without all of the right information or without asking the right people for advice.

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