NYT: Hopes for Wireless Cities Are Fading

23Mar08

The New York Times has an interesting article about the failure of for-profit wi-fi projects in several US cities, along with the emerging of community-based non-profit models:
… But the excited momentum has sputtered to a standstill, tripped up by unrealistic ambitions and technological glitches. The conclusion that such ventures would not be profitable led to sudden withdrawals by service providers like EarthLink, the Internet company that had effectively cornered the market on the efforts by the larger cities. …
“The entire for-profit model is the reason for the collapse in all these projects,” …
Meraki, a wireless networking company based in Mountain View, Calif., has jumped into the void in San Francisco with a program it calls “Free the Net.” The company sells low-cost equipment that can be placed in a person’s home to broadcast a wireless signal. The company also sells inexpensive repeaters that can be placed on rooftops or outside walls to spread the original customer’s signal farther. The combination of the two types of equipment creates a mesh of free wireless in neighborhoods. The company says it has almost 70,000 users throughout San Francisco.



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