The Norfolk City council has installed free public internet access on few places such as in the train station and public library. This year, 2016, the local government ventures to increase the free public internet access by installing free Wi-Fi hotspots across the city. This paper proposes the parties that should incur the cost of the public internet services and presents a proposition on how the involved parties should implement the project successfully. The proposal also presents the expected costs and benefits of the projects.
According to the Netivist (2016) online newspaper, the current world is sophisticated with new editions of technology hence internet has become as important as any other basic need. Despite the great need of internet access, especially in developed countries, there are numerous persons who cannot enjoy the benefits because of the high costs of cell phone contracts. Therefore, it necessitates for the existence of free public Wi-Fi. This observation forms the foundation of this paper: Who should pay for the public internet services?There are three main options to respond to the problem. One, either the local government or the state government could incur the costs. Two, the public residents could pay for the internet utility. Three, both the public residents and the government could share the costs of internet services among the public. Nonetheless, the subject of free public Wi-Fi is not a new concept since the services already exists in various cities. Different businesses such as restaurants, rental houses, public transports, shopping malls, coffee houses, gyms, and libraries offer free internet as a strategy of increasing their competitiveness in the different industries that they exist. It is assumed that the customers pay for the internet services as they purchase the main products or services. However, such kind of free Wi-Fi is not considered public because is limited only to the customers. A better strategy of employing free WiFi involves installation of hotspots in most parts of the cities to ensure easy, unconditional and ready access to the internet. Consequently, such a strategy is accommodated by high costs both in terms of routers installation and internet services. Therefore, this research analyses the best option of incurring the aforementioned costs. Although some argue that public Wi-Fi is not safe, the Philippine Information and communication technology office affirms that it is a worthy venture because it should be bundled with a high level of security and controlled by elite state operators that specialise in internal cybersecurity (DOST Information and Communication Office, 2016). In addition, the ICT ministry of the Filipino argues that it is important to have public internet because it improves the social, economic and education status of the public(DOST Information and Communication Office, 2016). Therefore, the main debates in many jurisdictions are not the necessity of public internet but the cost of employing the services. This paper focuses on the implementation of public internet in the Norfolk, Virginia community.
GovTech (2016) reports that the Municipal council plans to introduce free public Wi-Fi in the city this year. The article affirms that the project will kick off by implementing the free Wi-Fi in the Park place neighbourhood to enable around 7800 people to access the services. The Park Place neighbourhood internet installation is the pilot project of the whole project which aims at providing free Wi-Fi for the whole Norfolk, Virginia City. The project is set to set up Wi-Fi hotspots in public places such as public libraries and leas with businesses persons in the city to use their premises. So far, the city has free Wi-Fi installed in the Norfolk libraries and the MacArthur train station. However, it is not disclosed who will be paying for the services. Therefore, it is assumed that the city municipal is incurring the costs. If that is the assumption, will the local government afford to solely provide for the all the expenses? Or will it be a cost sharing with program with the government? To avoid discrimination of those who cannot afford the services, it is paramount for the government to source finances on its own. This being the case, the government should strategize on the different ways to acquire enough funds for the project.
The government, either the state or the local government gets its finances from the public taxes, therefore, its expenditures is more or less the expenditure of the residents. Stiglitz and Rosengard (2015) remark that most of the government finances are acquired from taxation. Therefore, it is paramount for the Norfolk, Virginia city to implement ways of increasing the taxes either by increasing the rates or increasing the portfolio of the things to be taxed. In addition, it is required for the local government to reduced budget allocation of tax expenditures in other ventures and allocates the finances in the free public internet projects. Moreover, the Municipal should also acquire finances from the state government so as to fund the free Wi-Fi projects.
Chimboi (2016) highlights that the forms of government income include fines and penalties, borrowing, self-generation revenues, money printing, service fees, taxation, and raiding funds. Penalties and fines refer to the costs levied on persons that break the law enforced by the jurisdictions. Such a strategy is reliable since it is provides varying amounts of finances depending on the incidences of crimes committed. Due to the efforts of the country to minimise the rates of crimes, fines and penalties remain an unreliable source of government in comes.
Money printing is not a valid option in this case because it is the mandate of the State government to produce currency rather that the local government. Moreover, printing more money increase the possibility of the nations to experience increased inflation rates and reduction of the currency value.
Borrowing money from banks or by issuing bond to the publics is also a viable option for the government to explore so as to fund the free Wi-Fi project. However, borrowing it is perceived as a last resortsince it is associated with high interest rates which could be avoided costs in case there are other available sources of acquiring income.
In addition, the government can generate its own revenue by engaging in service or product provision businesses. Such businesses include public transportation, advertisement, and rental of housing and business premises.