March 03, 2005

Houston Sees Threat to "Technology for All"

A front-page article in today's Houston Chronicle discusses how the Technology for All project is getting low-cost Internet access into the East End community, and how the community Internet ban in HB 789 could undo it all.

[...] Technology for All, has pioneered this program to bridge the digital divide with help from Rice University and an enthusiastic Mayor Bill White, who has asked city libraries to join the effort. This small, wired neighborhood may eventually become a model for providing everyone in the city free, or low-cost, Internet access.

Or not.

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, has filed a massive telecommunications bill in Austin this session that, in part, bans Texas cities from participating in wireless information networks.

"I'm not real pleased," [TFA President Will] Reed said. "As it currently stands, the bill eliminates competition, innovation and a huge research opportunity."

Acting state representative Melissa Noriega has decried the community Internet ban, and promises to defend Technology for All.

[Rep. Noriega] called the effort to ban municipal participation in wireless Internet efforts "short-sighted," and said she will work to prevent it from becoming law.

Noriega said families that cannot speak fluent English can be transformed by learning to use a computer and crossing the digital divide they learn how to spell-check, can find translation services online, e-mail family in their home countries, and much more.

"This may be the single biggest step we can take to close the gap between the haves and have-nots," she said.

Posted by chip at March 3, 2005 09:07 AM