Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Municipal Wi-Fi: A Promise Unfulfilled?

Jeff Merron at InformationWeek writes about the unfulfilled promise of municipal WiFi. His main complaints appear to be (a) spotty coverage, (b) insufficient consumer demand, and (c) inability for the networks to turn a profit. His perspective is much more that of the service provider than the user, which probably explains why his issues with municipal WiFi are so different from mine. (Of course, these differences may be part of the problem - the providers don't seem to have a good idea of what the users want.)

Buffalo's municipal WiFi is pretty unusable for me; it has so many protections against abuses of the service that all use is rendered difficult. First off, the service is limited to web use. Files can't be downloaded. Instant messaging clients don't work. The web service itself is horribly slow. And, most damagingly, it's heavily censored, with what appears to be a really heavy-handed keyword approach. If I want to use WiFi downtown, my only real choice is to find an institution (like the public library) that offers real access.

Further discussion at Slashdot.

No comments: