Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Wi-Fi Goes to Town

Add Wi-Fi access to garbage collection and police protection as services that that many municipalities now regard as essential amenities.
July 1, 2004

Garbage collection. Police protection. And now Wi-Fi access. A growing number of towns and cities are starting to provide free high-speed wireless Internet access in parks and downtown areas. St. Cloud, FL, a suburb of Orlando, is one of the latest on the free-Wi-Fi bandwagon. Starting this summer, eight blocks in downtown St. Cloud will have coverage. And by early next year, a newly constructed, 2.4-square-kilometer business and residential development will open with free Wi-Fi. “This is a great service that we as a city should provide, like all other services like electricity, water, trash pickup,” says Glenn Sangiovanni, St. Cloud’s mayor, who says many residents either can’t get or can’t afford broadband in their homes.

Dozens of other cities around the world-from Tallahassee, FL, to Tucson, AZ, to Hamburg, Germany-are also beginning to offer Wi-Fi. And their number should soon explode, says Gerry Purdy, an analyst with MobileTrax, a Cupertino, CA, wireless-technology research firm. Between such free services and others that charge fees, “by the end of the decade, most municipal areas will either have Wi-Fi implemented or be in the process of planning it,” Purdy predicts.

The new trend promises to save Internet users money in several ways. With new mobile phones coming out within the next year that can send and receive Wi-Fi signals (see “One Person, One Phone,” TR March 2004), users will be able to make cheap phone calls over Wi-Fi while walking around town. And commercial wireless Internet service providers will likely face pressure to cut fees, says John Yunker, an analyst with Pyramid Research in Cambridge, MA. Why pay for Wi-Fi in Starbucks when you can sip your latte and surf the Web for free in the nearby park?

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way
supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way

This is the first image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy

The stunning image was made possible by linking eight existing radio observatories across the globe.

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.