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International Internet Initiatives

Last week’s article about free Internet access in Bologna, Italy prompted a number of responses from other parts of the world that are also providing free Internet access to citizens, as well as a comment about Bologna’s history of innovation.

Frans Hoffman <[email protected]> writes:

The Digital City in Amsterdam has been offering free access in Amsterdam and surroundings since January 1st, 1994. Approximately 10,000 people have registered as citizens. The City of Amsterdam (city council, archives, political parties etc.) and the Dutch Senate (Archives and Senators) are among the available services.

Cheinan Marks <[email protected]> writes:

The state of Maryland offers a Gopher server containing information about Maryland, state and local government, and Internet access. The state is also in the process of providing all Marylanders with a free local access number. Six counties already offer connections locally, and the whole state should be connected in a year or so, although the major population areas should be done this year. Additionally, Baltimore’s library currently offers email service for $35 per year and FTP and Telnet for $100 per year.


Jack Machiela <[email protected]> writes:

New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, has a fairly progressive City Council, who have had their publicly accessible Citynet system up and running for some years now, giving free access to email, Archie, Usenet, IRC and a few other services. And when I say free, that includes the phone lines – New Zealand Telecom appears to be one of the last in the world to provide free local calls for residential customers. Citynet is provided as a VT-100 compatible menu driven front end over about a dozen phone lines. You can also telnet to it or access the information via Gopher.


David Peterson <[email protected]> writes:

Last week’s TidBITS (TidBITS-249) describes how the City of Bologna in Italy is providing free/low cost Internet service to its residents. But this shouldn’t surprise us. Bologna has had a reputation for innovation for over 900 years. In 1076, Irnerius, a liberal arts teacher, found the summary index to Roman law, which had been lost since the year 603 (Dark Ages and all that). He established a law teaching facility in a monastery, which evolved into one of the world’s first law schools by 1088. Benefiting from its location at the crossroads of "real" highways, the city soon had more law students than residents, and an international student body. By 1158, the law school had expanded into one of the world’s first universities, run by the students, who hired the teachers and wrote the rules. In the 1300s, the issue was "paper versus parchment." Bolognese took the radical "pro-paper" position, in spite of arguments that it was too fragile and would never last.

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