Lunching in Walnut Creek the other day I was happy to find that my Airport picked up a connection. I already have accounts at T-Mobile and Boingo so I was dissapointed when this hotspot was Hotspotzz. How many different providers are there? I didn’t want to have to sign up for an account, learn the different pricing models, etc. so I just forgot it. Unless one of these companies quickly builds a nationwide service that gains formidable critical mass, I continue to believe that it is cities, not companies, who must operate “hot zones.”
Some cities are slowly deploying wireless networks to assist their pubilc safety and code enforcement employees be more efficient in the field. For example, if a city was using Comcate’s Code Enforcement product employees could be out in the field giving citations and downloading case histories from their PDA or laptop.
But the city of Spokane, WA has gone even further by deploying very large “hot zones.” What cities like Spokane and others will do is allow citizens to get on the web for free for, say, two hours a day and then they would pay after that. These expansive metropolitan networks will eventually cover the entire city, though most start just in the downtown district. Economic development managers love this stuff.
I believe that city-run, somewhat free “hot zones” are the future of wi-fi and hotspots. Not 10 different companies each with 1000 hotspots at certain cafes in certain cities across the US.