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Summary:

There was a time a few years ago when it looked like web workers would be able to find free (or at least pervasive) Wi-Fi access in major cities across the nation. Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and other cities announced ambitious plans to blanket their […]

There was a time a few years ago when it looked like web workers would be able to find free (or at least pervasive) Wi-Fi access in major cities across the nation. Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and other cities announced ambitious plans to blanket their municipalities with access. But now, according to a review of the situation in the New York Times, those hopes are fading. While some plans, such as the one in Minneapolis, are moving ahead, most are on the rocks.

The Times blames Earthlink for torpedoing much of the momentum, thanks to a reassessment of the potential for making a profit. But does it really matter to web workers? Were you looking forward to municipal wireless access, or do you feel like your needs are already covered by hotels, coffee shops, and other access points wherever you go?

  1. I use the Minneapolis Wifi as my primary and only home internet connection. It’s not great, but it’s not comcast or qwest.

    Despite my love of Muni Wifi, I would have to agree that Wifi is ill-suited for blanket coverage that is needed for a system like this to work.

    Maybe someday WiMax will be here…

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  2. Mike,

    This is Steve Marsh from the D&D/planes of reality days. I was trying to catch up with you in the hopes I could get whatever papers you still had that I had sent you.

    I’d also note that I use the free wireless in County buildings in my home town.

    Interesting to think of meeting all my on-line needs from nomad hot spots.

    Anyway, drop me a line if you get the chance, thanks!

    Steve Marsh

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  3. All the places I’ve lived since ’99 are inching toward community-financed muni WiFi, which IMO will get one by in a pinch.

    …But coffeehouses and the like are only marginally better. Get too many people trying to use too weak a signal, and a true Web Worker will be dead in the water (the statelessness of HTTP notwithstanding).

    To hell with throughput, I’d rather have a slow connection that won’t time out.

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  4. Hey guys,

    Pop over to Bristol (UK) – we’ve got free wifi courtesy of Streetnet and the city council. Plus loads of places have free wifi on tap in coffee shops, bars, etc.

    John

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  5. Muni is not about meeting my needs. I can afford broadband in the home. I live in Jersey City and many if not most of the residents here cannot afford the cable/telco cabal that charges close to monopoly rents, without real competition. Price competition was, to me, the real benefit of muni wireless. Sufficient bandwidth is available in many places, but without broad coverage, with reliable security, many will not be able to enjoy the fruits of the web.

    Tom

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  6. People should know how to get their work done.

    There lies the crux of the matter.

    http://tekno-world.blogspot.com

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  7. The government was going to put one of their biggest taxpayers out of business. Um?

    Telcos most likely did their best to stop it, even if it meant going by slightly less legal means. Time Warner makes gazillions of dollars from Road Runner; are they really going to let all that go away when they have the capability to stop it?

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  8. The sad thing is that many small communities, not wanting to be left out in the technological cold latched onto the idea of muni wifi, only to find that it wasn’t such a great deal.

    The small town/city we live in (Castlegar, BC) burned a bunch of cash trying to get one set up, some would say, another broken electoral promise, I’d say smart choice for not going through with it.

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  9. I’m another subscriber to Minneapolis WiFi, and I’m pretty satisfied with the service. It is fast enough to view video like Miro, it gives us multiple connections, and we can connect our Wii as well. It might not be as fast as cable, but it beats out DSL. And I’m happy to have an alternative to either Comcast or Qwest.
    Minneapolis is using a different business model to get WiFi coverage across nearly 60 square miles of the city. The project is not done, but so far so good.

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  10. So many cities towns have de facto wifi with the vast number of unsecured networks in denser areas

    Philadelphia is a good example of this scanning for wireless network normally yield at least dozens of wifi networks if not more in much of the city

    Even this coverage expanding as the 802.11n standard is adopted with longer ranges & speeds

    Philadelphia is a good example of how not to do Muni Wi-Fi , Earthlink’s lock in subscription model , total lack of coverage , low band width beyond lack luster customer serves , & double billing etc.

    While Muni Wi-Fi seems to be doable Earthlink seems to be the all to common denominator in so many of the failures

    I really feel the real way forward is a mix of the grass roots & wifi provided via the brick & mortar businesses in denser areas

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