The most powerful (and useless) city-run Internet in America

In 2010, the federal government directed $17.4 million of stimulus money to construct the “most powerful city-run Internet infrastructure in America.” It is the sort of network that could bring super-fast, free Internet service to everyone – including many low-income homes that can’t afford the expensive service offered by companies like Comcast or Verizon.

That network was built right here in D.C. But, perhaps appropriately considering the notorious bureaucracy for which the city is known, it isn’t actually available for residents to use. City Paper‘s Aaron Wiener explains (CP, 5/2):

The idea was to help bring the city’s existing fiber network, DC-NET, to underserved areas. That doesn’t mean simply blasting a public Wi-Fi signal at Congress Heights, though. The city isn’t allowed to be a so-called last-mile provider, bringing the Internet directly to consumers, but rather a middle-mile network that Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon, as well as “community anchor institutions,” can use to bring a powerful Web connection to the masses.

Related: Earlier this year, the Post wrote about how low-income students without reliable internet access are at a disadvantage in the classroom. (WaPo, 2/27)

HOUSING | President Obama has nominated North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Post suggests that Watt’s nomination “suggests that the administration would like to speed up the slow-going effort to determine the future of the taxpayer-backed mortgage giants.” (WaPo, 5/2)

EDUCATION | The 2014 budget for DCPS calls for staff and program cuts at dozens of schools. Chancellor Henderson and Mayor Gray cite under-enrollment as the cause for the cuts, but the budget actually cuts funding for schools where enrollment is increasing, too. One PTA member comments (WaPo, 5/2):

The message that DCPS sends to families looking for anything other than the bare minimum is, ‘Go to charters.’

FOOD | New data from the Department of Agriculture show that grocery costs have risen between 35 and 39 percent for all income levels over the last ten years. Families using federal food assistance, for example, have seen a 35 percent increase with the weekly cost of groceries increasing from $107 in 2003 to $146 today. (WTOP, 5/2)

Also alarming is the fact that 2003 was a decade ago…?!

TRANSIT | Metro has spent the last few years jacking up fares and severely inconveniencing riders in the name of safety “improvements.” But one thing that they haven’t fixed, at least since I was in middle school many moons ago, are the broken speakers in rail cars. This week, a muffled announcement caused passengers to think they were supposed to evacuate. What happens when there is a real emergency? (GGW, 5/2)

Related: We won’t need Metro anymore if designer Riten Gojiya’s personal airships become reality! (Atlantic, 5/2)

Rebekah has the Daily tomorrow. Hope you all enjoy the beautiful weather that we’re supposed to get this weekend. I will be watching Iron Man 3 over and over again (or at least once).

But first, here are 99 “life hacks” that will (mostly) make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

– Christian