Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Philly to go wireless?

Today's Metro, a daily free newspaper distributed at train stations and bus stops, has a story reporting a proposed plan to cover Philadelphia with wifi hotspots, apparently to be run by the city. There's a $10M price tag quoted for it. As yet, no word on whether it will be "free"* or if users will have to pay. Should the plan be implemented it would make Philadelphia the world's largest hotspot.

Personally, I have my doubts that the city could pull it off comptently. Governments can sometimes drive innovation by the private sector or academia, with the best example being the Internet. However, government attempts at putting similar programs in place are almost invariably plagued by poor implementation, shoddy work, and cost overrruns.

* In the words of Robert A. Heinlein, TANSTAAFL, or there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Somebody has to foot the bill, whether subscribers or taxpayers.

Edit: Apparently, AP has picked up this story.


Anonymous said...

Here in Hasselt (Belgium) we have a lot of free hot-spots already. With the whole city (much smaller than Philadelphia) planned to be covered by then of next year. All free (taxpayers money + cafee and restaurant sponsering).
Usage uptake however has not been an overwhelming success yet.

Anonymous said...

... by THE END of ...
(I blame the keyboard ...)