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February 02, 2005
Citywide Wi-Fi networks: good or bad?
Business Week sounds off on the idea of municipal Wi-Fi in cities like Philadelphia and New York, emphasizing that city governments shouldn't be in the business of running wireless broadband networks. After sorting through a number of reasons -- ranging from network maintenance costs to cost overruns in rolling out other city-funded Internet access initiatives -- the piece questions whether Wi-Fi networks of any kind are even needed:
"Also, what I don't understand is, why we would want to have 135 square miles of Wi-Fi coverage in the first place? Sure, city-wide coverage sounds nice. But some of these hot spots might be never used (My elderly neighbors are unlikely to hook up to the Web any time soon). And in places like parks and public libraries where lots of people might want to use Wi-Fi, chances are that private companies like Wayport have already installed their access points. So, what's the point?"
Not surprisingly, Wi-Fi proponents like Glenn Fleishman are devoting quite a bit of bandwidth to dissecting the inconsistencies and fallacies of the Business Week piece. As Fleishman points out, "The fine folks at BusinessWeek seem to have fallen for tropes, sock puppets, and strawmen... " He then proceeds to attack each assumption of the anti-municipal Wi-Fi camp, item-by-item.
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