Public Wifi Goes Back on the Wish List

14Sep07

Alas. The withdrawal of EarthLink from most of its municipal wifi projects seems to have shot down two of my biggest hopes for ubiquitous wifi access: the Silicon Valley Wifi Project and the San Francisco city-wide wifi network.

I’m disappointed but not really surprised. That idea that enough advertising revenue could be earned from mobile users to pay for a mesh network across all of Silicon Valley always seemed dubious to me, but I was willing to defer to experts on that. After all, EarthLink is a private, for-profit business, and free-market economics assures us that those guys know what they’re doing. So when EarthLink committed to the deal I figured they must have done the research and crunched the numbers so who was I to question it.

But now I recall that free-market economics is bunk, and corporate executives aren’t any smarter than anyone else, and often less so, which is something that I already know from direct experience. But I let my desire for ubiquitous public wifi blind me to what I already know; there’s a sucker born every minute, and sometimes it’s me. But I am now re-chastened, and I promise to be a cynical SOB the next time I hear a corporate promise that just doesn’t smell right. At least I’m currently very sensitive to nonsense emanating from the government, thanks to six and a half years of the Bush administration.

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