free wi-fi, eventually

I thought this article from the Wall Street Journal was interesting. It talks about a couple of different approaches to spreading Wi-Fi out for free. Some cities and communities, such as San Francisco, are trying to offer Wi-Fi for free to everyone. Other companies, such as Time Warner Cable, are trying to create a social network of Wi-Fi users to profit off of. The writer of the article does not give a clear answer to which technology will work best, he just says some combination of them will definately give everyone wireless access in the coming years.

Here are the last couple of lines I thought were funny:

"When first introduced, [air-conditioning] was a luxury item," Mr. Spiegel notes. "Stores that installed it saw a benefit. As it became more available, more and more stores added it and it became more of a cost of doing business."

So it will be with wireless. And as with air-conditioning, we'll be startled to find ourselves going without now and again. We'll even feel nostalgic about it.

I think having free wi-fi for everyone would be so tight. Funnily enough, at home I have neither air conditioning nor wi-fi, but I do steal the latter off the neighbors. ;)

I heard somewhere that McDonald's (maybe it was on this blog, actually) was introducing free wi-fi. So I guess it really is becoming like air conditioning.

The idea of having wi-fi everywhere is pretty nice; there are definite big brother ways this could go, what with wi-fi enabled devices recording where you are and all that, but I like to think that things wouldn't get this bad. This makes me think about all the "augmented reality" stuff I read awhile back, and also a few art pieces that make use of wifi to create public soundscapes in cities . Certainly if this happens there will be much fun to be had with it. It also could have positive political ramifications as well, so long as it goes unregulated, helping to address issues of accessibility by making getting on the internet cheaper.