As indicated in the previous section, the public residents pay for the social services remitted by the government through taxation. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the municipal council to ensure the public has a non-discriminatory access to the internet since it has been declared an important need across all socio-economic classes. Therefore, it necessitates the local government to ensure it has sufficient finances for the project. The three main sources of the finances for the free Wi-Fi project in Norfolk, Virginia city include an increase of tax income, sourcing funding from the state government, and engaging self-generating revenue projects. Self-generating income should be the main source of funding for the free Wi-Fi project, however, there should also be support from the government especially during the initial stages before the profits and revenue of the business projects can be realised.
Firstly, although taxation will help to release the budget constraints associated with the free Wi-Fi services, it poses a high risk on investment since the business cost will also increase. In addition, prices of products may also increase due to the high cost incurred by the companies. Therefore, it is important for the government to avoid increasing the tax rates by allocating funds that will only finance the project up to 10%.
Secondly, the Norfolk City should also seek funds from the state government. Since most of the nation’s tax returns to the state government, it is proper for the government to support up to 20% of the initiating cost of the projects.
Most of the project should be funded by self-generating income. U.S. News (2016) reports that the New York City receives around $ 500 million annually from the advertisement posted in the 1000 kiosks with free high-speed Wi-Fi routers. The amounts are sufficient to cater for the costs of internet services and maintenance.This should, therefore, be the main focus of the Norfolk, Virginia. The city council should also install kiosk with internet hotspots where advertisement will be either on public screens or on screens of the users.
In addition, the local government should also initiate their own public transport system with free Wi-Fi. Such a project will provide the local government with revenue and assist in providing public internet service to the residents.
Methods of Operation
The Canadian Government also offers public internet in different forms which include: Large-scale networks spaces, public transports, enterprise hotspots, and closed networks (ACMA, 2016). The Municipal spaces include parks, libraries, city centres, tourist attractions, museums, and galleries. The Norfolk, Virginia government should also install free Wi-Fi in only some of the premises instead of all places to leave for the state government to also install their own public internet service projects.
The city should install 3000 hotspots in the different Municipal spaces highlighted in the ACMA (2016) article. The following libraries should be installed with free Wi-Fi hotspots: Blyden Branch Library, Norfolk Public Library (Van Wyck Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Horace C Downing Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Park Place Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Anthony Branch), Mary D. Pretlow Anchor Public Library, Norfolk Public Library (Larchmont Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Janaf Branch), Slover Library, Norfolk Public Library (Layefette Branch), Norfolk Public Library (Barron F. Black), Virginia Library Association, South Norfolk Memorial Library, Portmouth Public Library, NSU Lyman Beecher, and Norfolk Public Library (City Hall Avenue).Depending on the size of the libraries, each of them may have 2-4 routers. Therefore, the libraries require around 100 hotspots.
The City centres will have most of the hot spots because of the large population that transit in the areas every day. Therefore, 2000 hotspots will be installed in the city centres will screen to advertise placed at strategic places. The hotspots will be placed in different business premises including restaurants, shops, and shopping malls.
500 hotspots should be placed in the different parks that are in the jurisdiction while the remaining should be installed in the public transports, especially the city buses that generate revenue to the municipal council (400 buses).
Costs of the Free Wi-Fi Project
There are two facets of the project expenditures. 1) Installation processes, 2) Internet services and 3) System maintenance. The installation process involves the purchase of the routers and subscription of the internet services. The internet services expenditures refer to the monthly utility bills for the internet services. The maintenance expenditures are the finances used to repair the routers and other technical defaults.
Cost of Installation Process
Cost of One Router - $ 39
Cost of 5000 routers - $ 195,000
Cost of 1 advertisement screen (1500 square feet) - $ 175,000
Cost of 500 advertisement screens - $ 87,500,000
Connection wires - $ 100,000
Total - $ 87,795,000
The installation of the advertisement screen and the process of advertisement will be a partnership with Titan and the Designer Control Group.
Cost of Internet Services per month
The Municipal council should have a partnership with one of the internet providers in the service providers so as to settle on a fixed rate despite the amount of internet consumption. This paper proposes Charter communication because of its specialisation in fast internet access services.
Monthly Internet charges - $ 1,000,000
Due to varying and uncertain cost of maintenance, this paper will only give the expected approximations.
Maintenance fees - $ 10,000
Therefore, the initial costs of installation of the free Wi-Fi will be $ 88,795,000 and recurrent monthly expenditures of about $ 1,010,000.
Benefits of the Free Wi-Fi Project
Digital economy (2016) purport that free public internet improves the education and digital literacy of the residents. Bertot, McClure, and Jaeger (2008)did a research will confirm that the literacy among communities with public internet increased continuously on the onset of easy access to the internet, The research focuses on public internet installed in public libraries. Arguing from the perspectives that libraries only cover a small percentage of the physical area of a city, it is logical that increasing the access of internet by increasing the physical availability will increase the literacy of the city in a tremendous way. Students will be able to source information either for the assignment or personal enlightenment. As a result, the status of education in Norfolk will increase. Apart from academic information, the public will also be able to access different materials related to business and society thus, improving the literacy of the city.
Digital Economy (2016) also recommend public internet because of its potential to facilitate tourism and town promotion. The free internet presents a perception of reduced expenditures in their budgets. As a result, it attracts people from different regions to settle in the city. Increased population indicates increased investments in the area resulting in economic benefits.
The Municipal Council will realise large amounts of revenues and profits from the advertisement project. The advertisement industry in growing tremendously because of the increased competition brought about by the advancements in technology and massive consumption of internet services. Zhao (2015) posits that video advertisement is gaining popularity because of its ability to enhance memory and its characteristic of creating attention among the target group through either visual or audio features.
The project will also enable the Municipal council to better communicate with the residents of Norfolk, Virginia. As a result, the council will reduce the costs of advertisement and public announcements. In addition, the hotspots may also be of great assistance in case of disasters such as earthquakes. For example, the local government can announce of the areas of relief for those who are affected.
The project will also increase the employment rate in the country in two major ways. One, the unemployed population will be able to freely view position advertisements. Two, there are very many virtual positions such freelance writing, blogs and internet sales, and marketing.
Free Wi-Fi in the country will also promote innovation on the internet because of the wide scope of information that could be utilised for creation of jobs and products.
The cost of free Wi-Fi in Norfolk, Virginia should be incurred by the Municipal council because the residents have already played their part through taxation. The project will provide internet service to the public without discrimination. The local government should finance the free Wi-Fi project using tax income, borrowing from the state government, and investing in advertisement and public transport business. The initial costs of the project is estimated to be $ 88,795,000 and monthly expenses of around $ 1,0100,000. The benefits of the project include improved public education and literacy, promotion of the city, profits from advertisement and public transport services, better and cheaper platforms of government-public investments, increased innovation, and increased employment rate
ACMA. (2016).Public Wi-Fi Hotspots: Food For Thought. Retrieved from http://www.acma.gov.au/Citizen/Stay-protected/My-online-world/Staying-safe-online/public-wi-fi-hotspots-food-for-thought
Bertot, J. C., McClure, C. R., & Jaeger, P. T. (2008). The impacts of free public Internet access on public library patrons and communities. The Library, 78(3).
Chimobi, O. P. (2016). Government expenditure and national income: A causality test for Nigeria. European Journal of Economic and Political Studies, 2(2), 1-11.
Digital Economy. (2016).The Benefits of Public Internet Access. Retrieved from http://vtrural.org/programs/digital-economy/updates/benefits-of-public-internet-access
DOST Information and Communication Office. (2016).Free WiFi Access in Public Places. Retrieved from http://icto.dost.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Free-Wi-Fi-Project-TOR.pdf
GovTech. (2016). Norfolk, Va., to launch Free Public WiFi. Retrieved from http://www.govtech.com/dc/articles/Norfolk-Va-to-Launch-Free-Public-Wi-Fi-.html
Netivist. (2016).Should Cities Offer Free Public WiFi Access to Their Citizens Despite Its High Cost? Retrieved from https://netivist.org/debate/free-public-wifi-access-should-cities-offer-this-service
Stiglitz, J. E., & Rosengard, J. K. (2015). Economics of the Public Sector: Fourth International Student Edition. WW Norton & Company.
U.S. News. (2016).The Heavy Price We Pay For ‘Free Wi’. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-01-25/the-heavy-price-we-pay-for-free-wi-fi
Zhao, W. A. N. G. (2015). Diversion of Video Advertisement in a Mobile Internet Era. Journal of Henan Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition), 1, 014.
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