ellohay! West Michigan

Connecting Grand Rapids, the WiMax saga continues

Posted in Uncategorized by forgr on December 8, 2008

Wireless broadband company hired by Grand Rapids battles merger, lawsuit.

“When Clearwire turns on its network, it is expected to offer high-speed mobile Internet access throughout the city’s 45-square-mile limits.

The city’s contract with Clearwire calls for it to provide high-speed mobile connectivity to police, fire and city operations. But it also is expected to offer high-speed services to local residents.

Clearwire has not posted consumer prices, but plans are to offer a variety of competitively priced services. Discounted service of $9.95 per month will be offered for up to 5 percent of the city’s low-income residents.” Read the entire article on mlive.com

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A Conversation with Catherine Ettinger

Usually when I get to tell someone new about this project, initially there is skepticism. Then I explain the structure and the elements built in for sustainability, there is optimism.

My conversation with Catherine, president of Foxbright (here in Grand Rapids) was a little different. She wasn’t pessimistic per se, but she wasn’t exactly beaming. I contacted her after listening to her podcasts “Inside Grand Rapids”, and read her About page that expressed great interest in learning about new and existing projects making a difference in the city.

Her studio develops websites for schools, nonprofits, social organizations and regular profit businesses too. Hospice, Goodwill, Phoenix Society among other are some of her company’s clients.

So, we met and talked downtown on Friday during lunch.

Some condensed, paraphrased, versions of her statements, questions, comments:
• Internet access is essential to this programs’ success, the wiMax program will be important
• Relying on a third party to provide internet access (which is integral to the program) is not a great thing
• Education is going to be difficult, people don’t like learning past a certain age, it’s going to be a challenge to get people to be receptive
• You can solve data loss issues with thumb drives, people use those all the time
• You won’t be able to give 24 hour support, staffing that is going to be nearly impossible
• Laptops, not desktop computers. Portable, small, strong tech devices
• Getting technology will be no problem at all
• The pilot program sounds good, kids in the same neighborhood is an optimal situation
• Eventually you’re going to need storefronts or workshops all over the city, coverage similar to the public library and their branches
• People will need to be able to walk to your locations as transportation is a major issue
• You could probably use those rooms at the public for some of the classes
• Security is going to be a big issue for people, build in a strong base in the program, because in this day and age…
In short, it was great to talk with her, she had some fantastic feedback, and comments about logistics, practices.

It was also good to hear about her perspective as a parent, she has two young boys at home who she personally wants to educate about the internet and technology herself. It sounded like she wouldn’t need the program for her kids.

She acknowledged that while she and her children have the resources and skills to harness the power of those tools, that not everyone in our community has the same advantages.

If I understood her correctly, over-all she thinks this program is a good idea and it could really work.

She expressed that she’d like to stay in the conversation as well.

Catherine, you bring a unique perspective to the table, you’re a mom, a small business owner, and a strong, intelligent voice in the community.

Thank you for the conversation, and we hope to hear from you soon (and yes, once we get this pilot program off the ground, I’d like very much to be a guest on your podcast, thank you for the invitation).

For everyone reading here, please poke holes, and keep those comments coming. Thanks and cheers.

Some more benchmarks, GR’s outlines potential resources

Posted in benchmarks, hardware resources, research by forgr on February 5, 2008

MiBiz, Article about Comprenew
http://www.mibiz.com/absolutenm/templates/wetemplate.asp?articleid=12521&zoneid=187

WorldWide Christian School’s Comprenew program website
http://www.wwcs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=cr_home

ISI’s Case Study on Comprenew Environmental Trust
http://www.isigr.com/Content/About/comprenew.asp

Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless: Applying lessons from Philadelphia’s WiFi story
http://www.successful.com/fgfoverview.html

Ocean City New Jersey Municipal Wireless project
http://www.ocnj.us/municipalwire.asp
Computer Recycling of Virginia for Non-Profits and Schools

Community Technology Centers’ Network
Mission
CTCNet was founded on the recognition that in an increasingly technologically dominated society, people who are economically disadvantaged will be left further behind if they are not provided access to and training on information tools.

Our mission is to provide resources and advocacy to improve the quality and sustainability of CTCs for underserved communities.
Vision

A world in which all people have equitable access to technology and the skills necessary to use it meaningfully.