Free Municipal WiFi: A Dream Deferred

A new journal article by Eric Fraser assesses what went wrong with plans to bring wireless Internet access to the masses, finding that a hostile regulatory environment trumps even the best-laid plans.

In reviewing Fraser's A Postmortem Look at Citywide WiFi, Christopher Mims notes that the Federal Trade Commission highlighted municipal WiFi as a promising means to bridge the digital divide as recently as 2006. However, in a 2010 Federal Communications Commission plan Connecting America, municipal WiFi is not even mentioned.

The problem is not technological capacity but rather draconian 1985 regulations limiting the nature of the power envelope and spectrum range for wireless technologies, making WiFi as it currently exists unsuitable for covering large areas, according to Fraser.

Mims writes:

'The failure of municipal WiFi is an object lesson in the dangers of techno-utopianism. It's a failure of intuition - the sort of mistake we make when we want something to be right.'

Full Story: Where's All the Free Wi-Fi We Were Promised?

Comments

building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
$25
Red necktie with map of Boston

For dads and grads: tie one on to celebrate your city!

Choose from over 20 styles imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.
$44.95
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95

NEW! Get the "Green Bible"

Understand the complexities of planning at the local level while preparing for the AICP* exam. Find out why this edition is included in the APA's recommended reading list.
$105