Will City-wide Wi-Fi Really Be Free?

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As more and more large cities across the nation, establish initiatives to launch citywide Wi-Fi networks, many people are also voicing their concerns of whether such wireless networks will really be free.

 

According to the Digg.com thread, Chicago to Go Citywide Wi-Fi, many members feel that the notion of “free” citywide Wi-Fi is unrealistic. Digg user, tnoetz01, is optimistic and said, “As the song goes, ‘it’s just a matter of time,’ pretty soon cities will begin to realize that ‘free’ Wi-Fi is a required utility much like water, electricity or garbage pickup.”

 

However, in response to that somewhat optimistic remark, Digg user, Seumas, said, “Um…water, electricity and garbage are not free by any stretch of the imagination. Or, is that what your point was? I’m not going to pay taxes to provide Wi-Fi for the entire city when I already pay for my own bandwidth, and I’m not going to ditch my own bandwidth for some slow a** piece of s**t free city-offered wireless.”

 

Seumas’ point is understandable. According to a Nielsen/NetRatings report, the number of Americans with broadband access reached 42 percent of the U.S. population in Aug. 2005, increasing 16 percent from Jan. 2005. That said, surely more than 42 percent of Americans have broadband access in their homes today.

 

My guess is that most city residents probably agree with Seumas—especially in Chicago, where taxes are constantly being debated. In addition, because accessing a wireless network requires a wireless-enabled laptop computer or other wireless device, and a Web browser that can access the Internet anywhere, how beneficial will this network really be for city residents? Time will only tell.

 

To read more from Digg users about citywide Wi-Fi, see www.digg.com/technology/Chicago_to_go_city-wide_wi-fi.

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