Status Update of Municipal WiFi in U.S.
October 25, 2007 8:38 AM
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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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Yes please! Tax me, I don't care!
10/29/2007 11:16:55 AM
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.
"This is about the Internet. Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
San Francisco, Houston, Chicago Municipal WiFi Plans on the Fritz
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