Cities all over the country are jumping on the “WI-FI” band-wagon. The latest corporation to join in the hype might just be none other than Google themselves. According to cNet.com, Google is bidding to provide wireless service to San Francisco and thus opening up wireless technology to hundreds of thousands of residents.
There are many supporters of the Google endeavor and many more who are excited to just have wireless availability. On the flip-side there are many privacy concerns (in relation to Google having control of the network) as well as the fear of the economic effect this can have on ISP’s and the greater telecom industry. These are definitely valid concerns that we will monitor as the bids to be San Fran’s Wi-Fi provider pan out. However, as we as a nation become more mobile isn’t this just a natural part of progress? Google certainly isn’t the first to head in this direction; back in August, Intel and partners announced their “Digital Initiatives” community aimed at connecting city/town officials to their communities (Fire Stations/Police/Public works, etc) but potentially this could lead to WiFi for all in these communities. Seattle might be there soon too. Speakeasy has been working on building “WiMAX” a pricey solution to a wireless business community. Here, for a fee small/medium businesses can tap into a wireless network based off of the top of the Space Needle. But rumors have it Seattle might have WiFi HotSpot’s for all, wherever you go. At this point, the situation isn’t so much whether WiFi cities should happen; it’s a matter of seeing when it will happen. What do you think of San Fran’s potential Wi-Fi Freedom?
Update! On 10/12/2005 Milwaukee, WI announced that they plan on launching a city-wide WI-Fi intiative accessible to all in the area.