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10 reasons why Buffalo should offer high speed access to all residents

July 20, 2010

The internet is important. It’s important for business, and it’s important for people to stay informed.

I think the City of Buffalo should place itself apart from other cities by offering residents free internet access.

Take some of the money from Tourism and business developement, and use it to buy in bulk from the two suppliers in Buffalo. This would do a number of things:

1. It would be a fee break. You can all this a tax break, or a fee break, or whatever, but businesses and residents would pay less.

2. It would be national news. (Ergo, no need to spend money on biz development and tourism)

3. It would set Buffalo apart as a place to do business. We could position ourselves as a place where information matters, and is free. We already offer huge tax breaks for moving here. We have money in place to attract businesses. Why not spend it this way?

4. A wired city is a more connected city.

5. It would be a step to stop us being positioned as poor, and instead have us be positioned as moving into where business is going

6. If the City of Buffalo is a business, then it makes good business sense to collectively buy a service from one of (or both of) the service providers at a cumulative discount. If we pool our cash, we get more for less. That’s a concept of capitalism.

7. It would make the city of Buffalo and attractive place to live for young people from the suburbs.

8. It would make Buffalo relevant for the right reasons.

9. Since cities compete with each other for businesses, a city will do this eventually. Being second isn’t news.

10. As part of free internet, residents agree to add content to Buffalo websites designed to attract tourists. Sites like Yelp, Google places, we as Buffalonians can promote our favorite places online to people who are thinking of a vacation. There are great places to eat, walk, see in our city. Sure it has some warts, but in exchange for free internet access, the city asks that we accentuate the good. Promote ourselves.

Stand up and be heard.

What do you think?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2010 10:15 am

    Any idea how much something like this would cost?

    Last time I checked, our current budget for travel and tourism is around $400,000 per year (about half of what Rochester spends)

    I love the idea, and I would be a huge proponent of making this happen, but realistically it would take some huge private dollars (i.e. Google) to really make this happen. We certainly don’t have the tax revenues to extend our infrastructure even further.

    I”m not trying to be a downer on the concept, I think it sounds amazing- it would just be far more expensive than Buffalo could afford.

    • July 20, 2010 10:46 am

      Cost is an issue. I was thinking tourism dollars plus new business dollars. Ie, the money the city spends to attract businesses.

      There are a lot of holes with this idea, which is why I threw it out there for examination.

  2. July 23, 2010 10:04 am

    It’s a good post but I see some problems that you might want to think through:

    Item 1) Your argument is that everyone in Buffalo is already on high speed. I would assume not. This would then make it a new tax for all those that do not use the internet let alone high speed or wireless.

    Item 3) Your concept of free is misleading. Whenever a government does something or anything the citizens pay. There is nothing free in that public sector model.

    Item 4) More Wire : More Connect – nice campaign slogan, but factually improbable. How many parks in Buffalo are “free” and what are the percentages of people using them each week or day?

    Item 6) A city is a bureaucracy not a business. Rarely do we equate bureaucracies with good business sense. When is the last time you sat down in a project meeting and asked “What would the mayor and his team do about this type of project? Let’s study what they did and emulate them!” We put them in place to manage risk and deal with community services. Worst case, this type of high speed internet service becomes some pandering campaign point that if you vote for me I’ll get you more or better ….

    BTW: I tend to agree with Alexis de Tocqueville’s observations that American’s send people to public office which they are willing to lose in their private lives. Meaning, we rarely send the best and brightest to our city, state, and federal government because if they are truly successful we want them being successful for us in our private lives.

    Item 9) If ‘free’ internet is a deal breaker for being first, I’m sorry to say, your city has other problems!

    Item 10) Promoting the city is key. Having people do it on their own is ‘priceless’.

    Hope that helps your thought stream.

    Good Hunting.

    • July 27, 2010 2:14 pm

      I have to get back to this. I will. Your suggestions are appreciated, and great.

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