Houston Community News >> Houston Mayor to Host Online Chat

5/17/2006 Houston -- Mayor Bill White is hosing a live online chat tonight to answer questions about citywide wireless Internet access. White will participate in the online discussion from outside City Hall, where he will access the Internet using a laptop computer and a WiFi connection similar to the one he hopes to install citywide.

Moderated by KPRC-AM 950 radio host Michael Garfield, the High-Tech Texas, the event is part of White's effort to make citizens aware of the wireless initiative and prompt them to get involved. The proposed wireless network would be financed and built by a private company without using taxpayer money, though the company would be allowed to install equipment on city-owned light poles and buildings. The network would be available to various Internet service providers, who would sell the service to users.

The goal is to drive down the price of Internet access, so more Houstonians can afford it, and to provide city facilities with free access.

This week, Houston Mayor White is expected to announce which companies bid on the project by Tuesday's deadline, although details of their proposals will not be public immediately. About 10 companies were expected to submit bids.

Cities across the country have or plan wireless networks, but none as large as the system that would be needed to blanket Houston's 600 square miles. Richard Lewis, the city's director of information technology, estimated it would take about two years to complete such an extensive project, but those details will be up to the bidder who wins the contract.

(By Alexis Grant)