Free internet service without discrimination

The Norfolk City council has installed free public internet access on few places such as in the train station and public library. In 2016 the local government ventures to increase the free public internet access by installing free Wi-Fi hotspots across the city. This paper proposes the parties that should incur the cost of the public internet services and presents a proposition on how the involved parties should implement the project successfully. The proposal also presents the expected costs and benefits of the projects. The cost of free Wi-Fi in Norfolk, Virginia should be incurred by the municipal council because the residents have already played their part through taxation. The project will provide internet service to public without discrimination. The local government should finance the free Wi-Fi project using tax income, borrowing from the state government, and investing in advertisement and public transport business. The initial costs of the project is estimated to be $ 88,795,000 and monthly expenses of around $ 1,0100,000. The benefits of the project include improved public education and literacy, promotion of the city, profits from advertisement and public transport services, better and cheaper platforms of government-public investments, increased innovation, and increased employment rates. 

The Norfolk City council has installed free public internet access on few places such as in the train station and public library. This year, 2016, the local government ventures to increase the free public internet access by installing free Wi-Fi hotspots across the city. This paper proposes the parties that should incur the cost of the public internet services and presents a proposition on how the involved parties should implement the project successfully. The proposal also presents the expected costs and benefits of the projects. 

An importance of internet in modern society

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According the Netivist (2016) online newspaper, the current world is sophisticated with new editions of technology hence internet has become as important as any other basic need. Despite the great need of internet access, especially in developed countries, there are numerous persons who cannot enjoy the benefits because of the high costs of cell phone contracts. Therefore, it necessitate for the existence of free public Wi-Fi. This observation forms the foundation of this paper: Who should pay for the public internet services?There are three main options to respond to the problem. One, either the local government or the state government could incur the costs. Two, the public residents could pay for the internet utility. Three, both the public residents and the government could share the costs of internet services among the public’s. Nonetheless, the subject of free public Wi-Fi is not a new concept since the services already exists in various cities. Different businesses such as restaurants, rental houses, public transports, shopping malls, coffee houses, gyms, and libraries offer free internet as a strategy of increasing their competitiveness in the different industries that they exists. It is assumed that the customers pay for the internet services as they purchase the main products or services. However, such kind of free Wi-Fi is not considered public because is limited only to the customers. A better strategy of employing free WiFi involves installation of hotspots in most parts of the cities to ensure easy, unconditional and ready access to the internet. Consequently, such a strategy is accommodated by high costs both in terms of routers installation and internet services. Therefore, this research analyses the best option of incurring the aforementioned costs. Although some argue that public Wi-Fi is not safe, the Philippine Information and communication technology office affirms that it is a worthy venture because it should be bundled with high level of security and controlled by elite state operators that specialise in internal cyber security (DOST Information and Communication Office, 2016). In addition, the ICT ministry of the Filipino argues that it is important to have public internet because it improves the social, economic and educations status of the public(DOST Information and Communication Office, 2016). Therefore, the main debates in many jurisdictions are not the necessity of public internet but the cost of employing the services. This paper focuses on the implementation of public internet in the Norfolk, Virginia community.

Free public wifi in the city

GovTech (2016) reports that the Municipal council plans to introduce free public Wi-Fi in the city this year. The article affirms that the project will kick off by implementing the free Wi-Fi in the Park place neighbourhood to enable around 7800 people to access the services. The Park Place neighbourhood internet installation is the pilot project of the whole project which aims at providing free Wi-Fi for the whole Norfolk, Virginia City. The project is set to set up Wi-Fi hotspots in public places such as public libraries and leas with businesses persons in the city to use their premises. So far, the city has free Wi-Fi installed in the Norfolk libraries and the MacArthur train station. However, it is not disclosed who will be paying for the services. Therefore, it is assumed that the city municipal is incurring the costs. If that is the assumption, will the local government afford to solely provide for the all the expenses? Or will it be a cost sharing with program with the government? To avoid discrimination of those who cannot afford the services, it is paramount for the government to source finances on its own. This being the case, the government should strategize on the different ways to acquire enough funds for the project.

The government, either the state or the local government gets its finances from the public taxes, therefore, its expenditures is more or less the expenditure of the residents. Stiglitz and Rosengard (2015) remark that most of the government finances are acquired from taxation. Therefore, it is paramount for the Norfolk, Virginia city to implement ways of increasing the taxes either by increasing the rates or increasing the portfolio of the things to be taxed. In addition, it is required for the local government to reduced budget allocation of tax expenditures in other ventures and allocates the finances in the free public internet projects. Moreover, the Municipal should also acquire finances from the state government so as to fund the free Wi-Fi projects. 

Chimboi (2016) highlights that the forms of government income include fines and penalties, borrowing, self-generation revenues, money printing, service fees, taxation, and raiding funds. Penalties and fines refer to the costs levied on persons that break the law enforced by the jurisdictions. Such a strategy is reliable since it is provides varying amounts of finances depending on the incidences of crimes committed. Due to the efforts of the country to minimise the rates of crimes, fines and penalties remain an unreliable source of government in comes. 

Printing money 

Money printing is not a valid option in this case because it is the mandate of the State government to produce currency rather that the local government. Moreover, printing more money increase the possibility of the nations to experience increased inflation rates and reduction of the currency value. 

Borrowing money from banks or by issuing bond to the publics is also a viable option for the government to explore so as to fund the free Wi-Fi project. However, borrowing it is perceived as a last resortsince it is associated with high interest rates which could be avoided costs in case there are other available sources of acquiring income. 

In addition, the government can generate its own revenue by engaging in service or product provision businesses. Such businesses include public transportation, advertisement, and rental of housing and business premises.

Sources of the finances for the free Wi-Fi project

As indicated in the previous section, the public residents pay for the social services remitted by the government through taxation. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the municipal council to ensure the public has a non-discriminatory access to the internet since it has been declared an important need across all socio-economic classes. Therefore, it necessitates the local government to ensure it has sufficient finances for the project. The three main sources of the finances for the free Wi-Fi project in Norfolk, Virginia city include increase of tax income, sourcing funding from the state government, and engaging self-generating revenue projects. Self-generating income should be the main source of funding for the free Wi-Fi project, however, there should also be support from the government especially during the initial stages before the profits and revenue of the business projects can be realised. 

Firstly, although taxation will help releasing the budget constraints associated with the free Wi-Fi services, it poses high risk on investment since business cost will also increase. In addition, prices of products may also increase due to the high cost incurred by the companies. Therefore, it is important for the government to avoid increasing the tax rates by allocating funds that will only finance the project up to 10%.

Secondly, the Norfolk City should also seek funds from the state government. Since most of the nation’s tax returns go the state government, it is proper for the government to support up to 20% of the initiating cost of the projects.

Most of the project should be funded by self-generating income. U.S. News (2016) reports that the New York City receives around $ 500 million annually from the advertisement posted in the 1000 kiosks with free high speed Wi-Fi routers. The amounts are sufficient to cater for the costs of internet services and maintenance.This should therefore be the main focus of the Norfolk, Virginia. The city council should also install kiosk with internet hotspots where advertisement will be either on public screens or on screens of the users. 

In addition, the local government should also initiate their own public transport system with free Wi-Fi. Such a project will provide the local government with revenue and assist in provide public internet service to the residents. 

Public internet in different form

The Canadian Government also offers public internet in different forms which include: Large scale networks spaces, public transports, enterprise hotspots, and closed networks (ACMA, 2016). The Municipal spaces include parks, libraries, city centres, tourist attractions, museums and galleries. The Norfolk, Virginia government should also install free Wi-Fi in only some of the premises instead of all places to leave for the state government to also install their own public internet service projects.

The city should install 3000 hotspots in the different Municipal spaces highlighted in the ACMA (2016) article. The following libraries should be installed with free Wi-Fi hotspots: Blyden Branch Library, Norfolk Public Library (Van Wyck Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Horace C Downing Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Park Place Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Anthony Branch), Mary D. Pretlow Anchor Public Library, Norfolk Public Library (Larchmont Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Janaf Branch), Slover Library, Norfolk Public Library (Layefette Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Barron F. Black), Virginia Library Association, South Norfolk Memorial Library, Portmouth Public Library, NSU Lyman Beecher, and Norfolk Public Library (City Hall Avenue).Depending on the size of the libraries, each of them may have 2-4 routers. Therefore, the libraries require around 100 hotspots.

The City centres will have most of the hot spots because of the large population that transit in the areas every day. Therefore, 2000 hotspots will be installed in the city centres will screens to advertise placed at strategic places. The hotspots will be placed in different business premises including restaurants, shops, and shopping malls.

500 hotspots should be placed in the different parks that are in the jurisdiction while the remaining should be installed in the public transports, especially the city buses that generate revenue to the municipal council (400 buses).

Costs of the Free Wi-Fi Project

There are two facets of the project expenditures. 1) Installation processes, 2) Internet services and 3) System maintenance.  The installation process involves purchase of the routers and subscription of the internet services. The internet services expenditures refers to the monthly utility bills for the internet services. The maintenance expenditures is the finances used to repair the routers and other technical defaults. 

Cost of Installation Process

Cost of One Router    - $ 39

Cost of 5000 routers  - $ 195,000

Cost of 1 advertisement screen (1500 square feet)       - $ 175,000

Cost of 500 advertisement screens     - $ 87,500,000

Connection wires        - $ 100,000

Total                                                                                      - $ 87,795,000

The installation of the advertisement screen and the process of advertisement will be a partnership with Titan and the Designer Control Group.

1. Cost of Internet Services per month

The Municipal council should have a partnership with one of the internet providers in the service providers to as to settle on a fixed rate despite the amount of internet consumption. This paper proposes Charter communication because of its specialisation in fast internet access services.

Monthly Internet charges - $ 1,000,000

2. Maintenance Expenditures

Due to varying and uncertain cost of maintenance this paper will only give the expected approximations.

Maintenance fees        - $ 10,000

Therefore, the initial costs of installation of the free Wi-Fi will be $ 88,795,000 and recurrent monthly expenditures of about $ 1,010,000.

Benefits of the free wifi project

Digital economy (2016) purport that free public internet improves the education and digital literacy of the residents. Bertot, McClure and Jaeger (2008)did a research will confirmed that the literacy among communities with public internet increased continuously on the onset of easy access to the internet, The research focus on public internet installed in public libraries. Arguing from the perspectives that libraries only cover a small percentage of the physical area of a city, it is logical that increasing the access of internet by increasing the physical availability will increase the literacy of the city in a tremendous way. Students will be able to source information either for the assignment or personal enlightenment. As a result, the status of education in Norfolk will increase. Apart from academic information, the public will also be able to access different materials related to business and society thus, improving the literacy of the city.

Digital Economy (2016) also recommend public internet because of its potential to facilitate tourism and town promotion. Free internet presents a perception of reduced expenditures in their budgets. As a result it attracts people from different regions to settle in the city. Increased population indicate increased investments in the area resulting in economic benefits.

The Municipal council will realise large amounts of revenues and profits from the advertisement project. The advertisement industry in growing tremendously because of the increased competition brought about by the advancements in technology and massive consumption of internet services. Zhao (2015) posits that video advertisement is gaining popularity because its ability to enhance memory and its characteristic of creating attention among the target group through either visual or audio features. 

Free wifi hotspot

The project will also enable the Municipal council to better communicate with the residents of Norfolk, Virginia. As a result, the council will reduce the costs of advertisement and public announcements. In addition, the hotspots may also be of great assistance in case of disasters such as earthquakes. For example, the local government can announce of the areas of relief for those who are affected. 

The project will also increase the employment rate in the country in two major ways. One, the unemployed population will be able to freely view position advertisements. Two, there are very many virtual positions such freelance writing, blogs and internet sales and marketing.

Free Wi-Fi in the country will also promote innovation in the internet because of the wide scope of information that could be utilised for creation of jobs and products.

The cost of free Wi-Fi in Norfolk, Virginia should be incurred by the Municipal council because the residents have already played their part through taxation. The project will provide internet service to public without discrimination. The local government should finance the free Wi-Fi project using tax income, borrowing from the state government, and investing in advertisement and public transport business. The initial costs of the project is estimated to be $ 88,795,000 and monthly expenses of around $ 1,0100,000. The benefits of the project include improved public education and literacy, promotion of the city, profits from advertisement and public transport services, better and cheaper platforms of government-public investments, increased innovation, and increased employment rate

References

ACMA. (2016).Public Wi-Fi Hotspots: Food For Thought. Retrieved from http://www.acma.gov.au/Citizen/Stay-protected/My-online-world/Staying-safe-online/public-wi-fi-hotspots-food-for-thought

Bertot, J. C., McClure, C. R., & Jaeger, P. T. (2008). The impacts of free public Internet access on public library patrons and communities. The Library, 78(3).

Chimobi, O. P. (2016). Government expenditure and national income: A causality test for Nigeria. European Journal of Economic and Political Studies, 2(2), 1-11.

Digital Economy. (2016).The Benefits of Public Internet Access. Retrieved from http://vtrural.org/programs/digital-economy/updates/benefits-of-public-internet-access

DOST Information and Communication Office. (2016).Free WiFi Access in Public Places. Retrieved from http://icto.dost.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Free-Wi-Fi-Project-TOR.pdf

GovTech. (2016). Norfolk, Va., to launch Free Public WiFi. Retrieved from http://www.govtech.com/dc/articles/Norfolk-Va-to-Launch-Free-Public-Wi-Fi-.html

Netivist. (2016).Should Cities Offer Free Public WiFi Access to Their Citizens Despite Its High Cost? Retrieved from https://netivist.org/debate/free-public-wifi-access-should-cities-offer-this-service

Stiglitz, J. E., & Rosengard, J. K. (2015). Economics of the Public Sector: Fourth International Student Edition. WW Norton & Company.

U.S. News. (2016).The Heavy Price We Pay For ‘Free Wi’. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-01-25/the-heavy-price-we-pay-for-free-wi-fi

Zhao, W. A. N. G. (2015). Diversion of Video Advertisement in a Mobile Internet Era. Journal of Henan Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition), 1, 014.