Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Arlington: County-wide WiFi

It seems that Arlington County has provisionally tapped Earthlink to build, operate, and own a county-wide WiFi network. Arlington already provides free WiFi (near the Courthhouse complex, in the Quincy Park library, and probably most other libraries), but that still leaves most of this small county uncovered. Details are sketchy, but based upon other Earthink municipal network deal, it will probably look something like this:

The network, once fully installed, will cover 26 square miles and provide wireless broadband for residents and visitors, as well as connections for on-the-move county employees. Yet-to-be-determined nonprofit partners of the county would likely get free access, and free hotspot service will be provided in parks, libraries and community centers.

I’ve seen no coverage of this before today, so I’m reserving judgment until I get more details. I’m quite familiar with the pro and con arguments for municipal networks, and I hope this will turn out to be a good deal for Arlington residents. That’s not a safe assumption, though, so it’s worth some closer scrutiny. The deal is going to the County Board on April 28th for approval. I’ll see what I can find before then, and share it here.

Update: Arlington’s Cable Television and Information Technology Advisory Commission describes it thusly:

The terms of the agreement provide significant public benefit to the County to include free wireless access in designated community centers, county parks, recreation centers, and public school facilities.  Earthlink will offer competitive monthly and short-term subscription rates to residents, businesses, and visitors for the broadband wireless service.

Also, there will be a public hearing on the proposed agreement (of which I’ve yet to find a copy) on April 10, 2007, in room 311 of the Courthouse Plaza Government Center at 2100 Clarendon Blvd, beginning at 7:30 p.m.


5, 4, 3 . . .


An Encounter on the Lawn


  1. The Old Town Observer

    Has there been any plan put forth by Earthlink to allow law enforcement to track or trace illegal activity? If not, then Arlington will become the Internet crime capital of Northern Virginia.

  2. MB

    Ooh, perhaps we can put that on our license plates, or make it the theme of the next car tax sticker!

    I certainly hope there aren’t any provisions made to provide for regular monitoring by law enforcement. If law enforcement thinks there’s a problem with it, they can get a warrant. Do you think something more is required?

  3. Bill Kuster

    Craig Fifer with the city of Arlington has been on some of the local government and maybe CSPAN discussing this.

  4. MB

    Unless he’s recently moved, Craig Fifer’s with Alexandria, and was probably talking about Alexandria’s wireless initiative (which I’ve also enjoyed the benefits of, near the Torpedo Factory . . . ).

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