courant.com: City Plans Free Internet Access
City Plans Free Internet Access
Wireless Network Would Be Created
By OSHRAT CARMIEL
Courant Staff Writer
November 8 2005
Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez wants to see more city residents online.
Whether residents of the nation's second-poorest city can afford an Internet connection should be irrelevant, he says.
Because the city is hoping to provide it for free.
Hartford purchasing agents published a formal request Monday for contractors who could create a wireless network citywide.
The network, which would allow all residents free, high-speed access to the Web, could be up and running on a test basis as
early as next summer.
The official "Request for Qualifications" asks for more than just a vendor capable of setting up such a network. The city also
wants the eventual vendor to offer computer training and hardware, such as laptops, at a discount to city residents.
"It's not just about providing a service that is nice and that people enjoy," said Matt Hennessy, Perez's chief of staff. "This is
about getting Hartford residents trained and equipped online."
"Everything from service-sector jobs to opening bank accounts to registering for classes, all these things have become
paperless," he said. "Hartford residents, the majority of whom don't have Internet connections and don't have immediate
access in their household to a computer, are at a distinct disadvantage."
The mayor's office estimates that fewer than 33 percent of the city's families have access to a computer or the Internet in
their homes. It's a scenario that creates a so-called "digital divide," a chasm of opportunity between families that do have
easy access to the technology, and those that don't.
"Many of [Hartford's] citizens are computer illiterate, greatly diminishing their employability," reads the city's published vendor
request. "Children are at a significant technological disadvantage when compared to those living in the affluent suburbs
The technology the city is s