Print 15 comment(s) - last by Xietsu.. on Nov 7 at 6:29 AM

What can people expect in the future?

Where are the citywide WiFi connections that all of us have heard so much about?

I wonder what it would be like to have citywide WiFi throughout San Francisco almost every time I head into the City.  After reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, I learned I am not the only person who is still actively thinking about WiFi initiatives.

Remember how the past two years featured lots of talk surrounding municipal WiFi deployments in big cities throughout the country?  Have you noticed how much of that talk has died down over the past six or so months?  The minimal chatter has rightfully left many of you wondering what the future holds for WiFi, so here is a brief insight into the future.

During the MunWireless 2007 conference in the San Francisco Bay Area, wireless big wigs and municipal officials came together to discuss the future of municipal WiFi.

A major setback took place when EarthLink cut half its staff, effectively killing WiFi initiatives in San Francisco and Houston.  Plans for WiFi in Chicago, St. Louis and Silicon Valley also are on indefinite hold for the immediate future.

What can be done?

Even though ad-supported free Internet sounds like a promising business model to offer Internet to every user, companies are now realizing they need cities and townships to act as anchors to help keep a constant revenue stream open.  Some cities want outright control of the project, while other cities are requesting federal grants to help kick start the WiFi infrastructure.

Another interesting tidbit is that the WiFi networks are no longer being promoted as a service to allow every citizen to have an affordable access point to the Internet.  Instead, the connections are being promoted as a service to city workers and for the public good - i.e. public safety, surveillance cameras and meter reading.  For example, a city in San Joaquin County installed 71 WiFi enabled cameras to give police another resource to watch intersections and traffic hotspots for accidents without physically being on-site.

With more devices like the WiFi-enabled Apple iPhone on the horizon, it is plausible we can expect a fairly bright future for public WiFi systems at some point in the future.

"It's a game changer," Metro-FI CEO Chuck Haas said of the iPhone.  "When you go outside, who wants to use a laptop? But every owner of an iPhone will want to use a Wi-Fi network a lot."

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Cellular network?
By Spivonious on 10/25/2007 9:26:54 AM , Rating: 2
Couldn't they just use the existing infrastructure in place for cellular telephones? I'd think it would be pretty cheap to just stick a WiFi antenna whereever there is a cell tower.

I'd consider paying a little extra taxes to get free WiFi throughout the town. I figure I'm paying $42.95/month right now, or $515.40/year. An extra $10 a week in taxes wouldn't hurt if it meant free Internet.

RE: Cellular network?
By Vanilla Thunder on 10/25/2007 10:02:35 AM , Rating: 2
If you're paying $515.40/year for taxes now, an extra $10 a week would nearly double that. I don't see that as beneficial. $40/month is what I pay for my broadband connection, and I certainly don't want to have to double that for WiFi connectivity I will probably rarely use. Just my 0.02.


RE: Cellular network?
By Hyperlite on 10/25/2007 11:34:25 AM , Rating: 2
yeah i'm also hoping that was a typo, i don't think he would like that figure to double....$10 a month maybe, not a week.

RE: Cellular network?
By gramboh on 10/25/2007 11:46:58 AM , Rating: 3
If it's flate rate, unlimited and fast, I would gladly pay that. No more need to pay insane data charges to telcom providers for slow wireless access over their mobile network.

RE: Cellular network?
By Kuroyama on 10/25/2007 12:32:54 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't it clear? He pays $43/month for broadband right now which works out to $515 a year, or about $10/week. He wouldn't mind paying that $10/week to the gov't if it were for citywide WiFi, i.e. pay the same as now for internet but instead get to use it citywide.

RE: Cellular network?
By Spivonious on 10/25/2007 1:55:24 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly what I meant. If I had free WiFi, I wouldn't need to pay Comcast anymore.

RE: Cellular network?
By TheBaker on 10/25/2007 4:44:30 PM , Rating: 2
Because trusting the government to ensure everything is running smoothly is exactly what I want in my internet service. Thanks, but I think I'll stick with profit-driven companies.

Comcast/Bellsouth/Time Warner = FedEx/UPS

Tax funded WiFi = USPS

You make the call.

RE: Cellular network?
By GaryJohnson on 10/25/2007 10:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
So maybe the USPS doesn't run as smoothly as FedEx and UPS, isn't it still good that we have the USPS available as an option?

I think the general selling point of municipal WiFi is to make cities more attractive to tech workers and tech companies. Those workers and companies would then generate more revenue for the municipality (paying for the WiFi and then some).

RE: Cellular network?
By zombiexl on 10/26/2007 6:31:31 AM , Rating: 2
Comcast/Bellsouth/Time Warner = FedEx/UPS

Interesting point. Of the last 4 packages i've received through fedex, not one was delivered correctly.

Of the last 4 packages i've gotten via ther USPS, every single one was ontime or sooner than I thought it would get here.

I agree I wouldnt trust the gov to provide reliable service, I also would not want to pay more taxes to provide city-wide wiFi. It's not something I need or care to support.

I'd rather see private companies work together to come up with a fair rate and allow users to use different wifi hotspots (sort of like cell roaming).

RE: Cellular network?
By howtochooseausername on 10/26/2007 9:43:22 PM , Rating: 2
Of the last 4 packages i've gotten via ther USPS, every single one was ontime or sooner than I thought it would get here.

Gotta agree with that one. USPS is the way to go for me. I've been screwed way too many times by FedEx and UPS. Ever try to ship a package through the Canadian border using UPS? Absolute rip-off with UPS and FedEx/DHL.

Although I do think that there can be a commercial Municipal WiFi, the incumbent companies have little incentive to threaten their existing revenue.

RE: Cellular network?
By Vanilla Thunder on 10/25/2007 4:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
I'd consider paying a little extra taxes to get free WiFi throughout the town. I figure I'm paying $42.95/month right now, or $515.40/year

No it's not clear.

Considering the lead sentence is talking about taxes, I assumed that the following sentence was also about taxes, not what he was paying for broadband.


Wi-Fi Philly
By dude on 10/26/2007 7:30:55 PM , Rating: 2
We were slated to have WiFi in Philly cheaply or free until Comcast stepped in and sued the city.

Needless to say, it is not cheap now that it has rolled out, and with my cell phone $20 internet, it is usable enough for me in a pinch with my iPhone.

Much better than Philly WiFi and I can use it anywhere I'd like, not just in Philly.

RE: Wi-Fi Philly
By Xietsu on 11/7/2007 6:29:34 AM , Rating: 2
What was the name of referral for the lawsuit when Comcast sued Philadelphia over the inception of Wi-Fi (for cheap or free)?

By GaryJohnson on 10/25/2007 10:37:46 PM , Rating: 2
A company called SkyTel Corp set up for-pay Wi-Fi test services in Colorado Springs, CO and Lexington, KY, but decided they couldn't make them profitable. They sold their wireless infrastructure (40 transmitters in Colorado Springs) to the local municipalities for $10 rather than pay the cost to remove the transmitters.

[Colorado Springs] is barred by state law from selling Internet access on the network to the public and plans to instead use it to test various applications, such as full-motion video and accessing warrants by police and other city agencies

Yes please! Tax me, I don't care!
By gochichi on 10/29/2007 11:16:55 AM , Rating: 1
If there were free internet everywhere, I would stop having a cell phone. I am really ticked about cellphones. I got in on it thinking "sure, $50.00 a month is alright for now, it'll go down eventually"... well... years ... YEARS have passed and the only thing I can think is that profits must be WAY up b/c my monthly fee is just as high as ever. Heck I look at new plans, and they are even worse than my current deal... which is just painful for me as a techie.

This is technology, prices should have plummeted long ago but there is now a friendly oligopoly of a few providers that don't even dare compete on price. Their idea of price competition is to offer difficult to compare plans for the same high price.

Think about internet access on the other hand. In 2002, 2003... you had to pay a high premium for high-speed... $50.00/mo or even $80.00/mo. Now you can get some basic high speed access for $12.00/mo. Cellphones on the other hand, same exact price...

Nothing would make me happier than to be able to break away from my cellphone. I could get by just fine with e-mail and text messaging. No prob at all.

I know it seems petty... but it's anything but petty. $50.00 per human being for technology that should be $20.00 per human being? That's armed robbery and who the heck knows where market forces went on this... I think government intervention is way overdue. 2 year contract? That should be illegal. 6 month maximum contract, they can be more open about the actual cost of the phones themselves... I think many of us are ready.

Seriously, many of you will wince at the thought of government intervention on these things... but it's government that comes up with this technology (certainly the internet, satellites and so forth) and yet they leave it up to a handful of huge companies to fleece us indefinitely. It's not a cheapness thing, it's an ethics thing.

Agreeing to not compete on price is wrong, anti-competitive contracts are wrong, and I'm a bit off of topic... but the fist thing I would do if Saint Louis had free internet access is get rid of my ridiculous cellphone bill.

Seriously, when the often talked about "free market" becomes just a handful of fat businesses collecting tariffs indefinitely for archaic technology it really makes me wonder. It makes me wonder, if we could go to war of the price of tea... shouldn't we be making a bigger deal about these sort of abuses?

I just don't even know where we'd be without Walmart setting the price straight on a few things. Seriously, anything that's even a little bit desirable is tons of money. Privatized healthcare functions as a bunch of non-governmental red tape (all the cons of private, + all the cons of government run)... cellphones, gas... electricity, ... good grief!

The reason cities can't do this city-wide internet is that government "can't" compete with the private sector... well, if the government "can't" compete... and the private sector won't compete... then where does that leave the consumer?

I know where it leaves these fatty fatty businesses... but isn't government supposed to protect people?

Seriously, Charter communications... OMG... the most fluff filled company. Filled to the brim with wasteful procedures, and idle workers but still just raising prices every day without much problem at all.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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