To the Editor:
In his Sunday, March 16 Trenton Times op-ed “Take Trenton’s Raw Materials, Make Its Future,” author and local businessman John Boyd, Jr. makes some excellent points. The time is long overdue for our capital city to be completely revitalized and updated for the 21st Century. To enable its turnaround, first and foremost, the city must be broadly connected to the web, for the good of its residents, workers and visitors.
To enable Trenton economically and pump new life into it, as well as make it an attractive center for business and visitors, the city needs a universal, free, high speed Wi-Fi Internet network, or ‘cloud.’ Trenton is geographically compact and would be the perfect place for the state to begin its long overdue urban Wi-Fi initiatives.
Universal, municipal Wi-Fi would help connect its students to the vast learning resources of the web, from Encyclopedia Britannica to online documentaries, lectures and lessons. The state has already committed to constructing a completely new high school for the city, but a quality education must include widespread Internet access. In the 20th century Trenton’s classrooms were the place for education, in 2014 it ought to be the entire city.
Municipal Wi-Fi would help to draw in and assist much needed travelers and tourists. Trenton’s potential as a regional tourism hub is real, and it has numerous historical, cultural and artistic venues to offer. By covering these areas with working wireless Internet, and perhaps designing apps to guide visitors, the city could become more attractive to them. Their presence would enrich our treasury with their sales tax payments, their patronage of local businesses and sheer diveristy.
And most importantly, municipal Wi-Fi for Trenton would directly connect all of its residents and businesses to the Web and all of the opportunities it has to offer. Trenton’s residents, like most of us, currently have only two choices when dealing with getting online: Cable or Verizon Fios. Generally these companies offer quality access to the Internet but at prices starting at $60 monthly. By establishing a free network, people of all classes and abilities will be able to access job openings, government services and email.
Municipal Wi-Fi for Trenton won’t be free, as nothing is. But this is not ten years ago. The cost of constructing a working, high speed cloud has plummeted in recent years with improvements in technology and affordability. The entire city could probably be transformed into a high-speed wireless cloud for under $2 million initially, and then operated less expensively per year once the initial infrastructure is in place. Additionally, a new network will create jobs for those to construct and manage it. For help, the Legislature would have to assist as a safe, viable state capital is in everyone’s interest.
Let’s follow Boyd’s lead. Let’s give Trenton a genuine cyber-makeover to enable its citizens and businesses to join the global economy and help make a capital city we can all be proud of.
Daniel B. Kurz, M.A.