Citify is an effort by Roch Smith jr and Andrew Brod to bring free wireless Internet to the entire City of Greensboro. I don't know how Citify is going to fare in the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Challenge but it is a finalist and it deserves to be a winner.
Why, you ask?
Well for starters just look at Chattanooga, Tennessee where ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic is credited with jump starting their economy. Free WiFi would force AT&T and Time Warner to make the jump to ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic just to stay in business.
And if they didn't make the jump we'd still get free WiFi all over Greensboro.
While I can't provide you with any local research, according to the National Review:
"...the gains in the form of consumer surplus, in encouraging tourism, in spurring broadband providers that currently face minimal competition to offer improved service, in giving low-income households a low cost alternative to traditional telecom providers, etc., would generate tens of billions for the U.S. economy, and that the resulting increase in measurable economic activity will in turn generate some non-trivial increase in revenue."
Didn't I just say that?
" Economic development is subject to fads and trends just like every human endeavor. But one economic strategy that has always made sense is investing in key infrastructure. Traditionally, this meant building roads, bridges, and ports. But we now understand infrastructure to mean any community asset that improves the productivity of a wide range of businesses and households.
Our lifestyles, both at work and at home, depend increasingly on high-speed telecommunications. Individuals demand connectivity for leisure and household management. For businesses it’s an absolute requirement regardless of their industry. And there is a substantial overlap of home-based businesses and entrepreneurs that blurs the lines between the two.
What if Greensboro chose to expand this particular form of economic infrastructure?"
Yeah, what if you didn't have to pay an Internet bill to read this blog, pay your bills online, watch free movies, order tickets to events at the Carolina Theatre or any of the other things you do online?
Yeah, those other guys want to bring you ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic Internet service but for that you'll have to pay a bill. And if Citify wins Time Warner and AT&T will build out their ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic systems anyway.
It's not a decision I can make but any rational thinking judge would choose CitiFy.
Oh, and just so you know, Roch and Andrew don't make anything off the sweatshirts-- all the profits go to, Wear Yours, 342 Tate Street, Greensboro-- a local small business.