Free Wireless Internet Access?

An editorial piece over at Network Magazine trashing “the geek-libertarian axis of ignorance” found among “high tech bloggers” (is that us??) for insisting that free spectrum will enable free, universal, mobile access. The article goes on to trash any sort of wireless wide area technology that isn’t run by a carrier, since it “has no busines model”. Now maybe this isn’t targeted at folks like those of us at Techdirt, but I think it’s a little misleading in its argument. First of all, I actually agree with some of the points – as he’s basically making the point that WiFi and 3G don’t really compete right now (though, he doesn’t quite make that point). However, while I’m all for business models, that doesn’t mean you should toss out ideas just because people haven’t yet figured out the proper business model. Besides, there are some indirect business models. Towns are installing WiFi coverage over their downtowns to drive more foot traffic to restaurants and stores (and convince companies to open up shop nearby). It’s fun to trash business models that involve anything that’s “free”, but that makes people miss plenty of opportunities. Plus, many of the points in the article point out current limitations to the technology. Since many of those limitations will change over time, it doesn’t make sense to condemn the concepts completely.

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