Next Generation Broadband Envy?

from the expectations-of-free dept

Remember back when the idea of broadband envy involved people in the US complaining about how far ahead of us South Korea was? Well, now, following Google’s attempt to supply San Francisco with free WiFi, the latest version of broadband envy may be about how come their city can’t supply free WiFi from Google? That sound you hear is a bunch of incumbent telcos gasping. No, WiFi covering an entire city probably isn’t the best solution, and Google may find it a bit more difficult to implement than they expect it to be… but once people start expecting free ubiquitous internet access, the ballgame begins to change pretty significantly — even if that internet access isn’t very robust. Perception can be a nasty thing.


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Comments on “Next Generation Broadband Envy?”

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15 Comments
Hunding says:

ISP charges

I am so tired of hearing that everyone wants everything for free. I have no problems paying my monthly bill with my ISP because the service they provide is sound. My speeds are not quite what they advertise but respectable non the least. I would much rather pay for my service than have it supported by advertisers and slow my connection down because I have to read umteen number of ads before I can see my page. Get a grip, this is the real world here!

Neisder says:

Re: ISP charges

Yeah, like all those stupid people below the poverty line that can’t afford cable, let alone broadband internet – Your statement is foolish and elitist, and you seem to have no concern for a giant chunk of the population.

It’s not like people will force you to use the free service!

Laptops with wifi access are becoming less and less expensive – affordable or sometimes free to those living below the poverty line.

Getting online, however, is a different story. Like it or not, free wi-fi/Wi-Max is coming, and that will drive competition – that’s good.

Google won’t be the only company – others like Yahoo will probably get into the game too.

Injuctions against such activity have been pushed onto senators by telecom lobbyists because they know broadband has little competition, and it generates massive cashflow. These guys are afraid of the free option to the public – it means they’d have to improve things, and that means innovating and spending money. Fat, bloated telecom companies hate this.

Lousy companies will disappear – good companies will thrive – even in a world of free Wi-Fi/Wi-Max.

I might still pay $8-10/month for an 8 Megabit dedicated connection – which is what free Wi-Fi/Wi-Max will do – push the bandwidth higher and make the cost reasonable with no ads. The days of paying $50/month for broadband are going to end and there is nothing anybody can do about it. If you are comfortable paying $50/month, then when your bill is $10/month because of competition, send the difference to me – I’ll take your money.

Brian F (user link) says:

Re: Re: ISP charges

I agree that Google will not be the only private company to begin to offer some amount of free wi-fi. Will they last? That is another questions, but one that they will have to support through their own business model, with Google, it will likely be advertising and building a data file on you that will put anything the credit card companies have to shame.
As to cities or states offering free wi-fi, the cost is just too high and idea of a municipality providing it is too socialist ? or at least it conflicts to much with established businesses. However, there are a few cities that have proposed some ideas for offering wi-fi that do make sense. Like, Huntsville, Alabama has partnered with a provider to meet the needs of visitors and tourists without really interfering with business providing access to residents and local businesses.
It will be interesting to see how all of this pans out when wi-max and real 3G service rolls out (don?t believe the telcos? hype right now ? trust me).

Robin Hood says:

Re: Re: ISP charges

Your comment on peverty is largely founded but poorly implemented. Those in the poverty level have disadvantages beyond whether or not they get free wifi; they cannot afford computers at home which puts the kids at a disadvantage at schools which lowers their chances of getting into college and the cycle continues. This is the way the world works.

If google is modeling their access off of advertising they are not targeting the poverty line because that is not where the all mighty dollar is. They are targeting the middle class, since the higher class will not trivialize themselves with this “commoner” service.

When kmart has a blue light special I don’t think is running to that aisle. Conversely, I do not think that someone living in poverty is looking for sales at Bergdorf Goodman.

alaric says:

Changes Nothing

What is the busines model here? Unless the city is picking up the tab, i don’t really see one. I really don’t see one if the city also picks up the tab.

Devices represent the other issue. People want to carry cell phones not laptops. Wifi cellphones make become available in the future but they are not there today.

Coverage is the last. It will be nice if you can get wifi in san francisco but mobile networks are baesd on uquity. What happens when you want coverage outside of san fran?

I don’t think this is a huge threat and i also doubt you’lls see all that many cities maintaining free wifi once cellular carriers do it. No one wants more taxes.

zeroverse says:

Re: Future

I don’t think it will take 50 years. Try ten. I think universal (wimax?) networks will be everywhere and being able to talk to anyone anytime anwhere via wireless voip phones and other mobile devices will become ubiquitous, even in 3rd world countries. If there’s one thing that everyone has to do, it’s communicate. And the technologies being developed today will make it extremely cheap and available to almost everyone on the planet. I welcome google’s innitiative. Google was responsible for all the major email providers multiplying storage capacity 100 fold, and I hope the same effects boil over to the broadband industry.

Alaric says:

RIP 2007 - Google WiFi

I’m sorry but i just don’t see this working for long. Verizon is already running very effective commercials which mock Wifi quite well. I personally know formerly heavy users of wifi which don’t bother any more. EV-DO is more convenient. Once Verizon and other carriers improve their networks (EV-do is still pretty limited) it is over for metro Wifi. Plus how many people run around with a laptop all the time?

The real kicker here is that next gen networks (flarion, some future wimax, 802.20, super 3G) will be subsidized by voice users and that is something that metro wifi will never have.

Ubiquity is the underlying value of wireless. Metro Wifi is a phase which most metros will outgrow. Google will also outgrow it.

As for the poor, if they are so poor how did they get the laptop? The poor are better served with universal broadband efforts (through DSL, cable, wireless, anything) and subsidies to afford the computer and an access line to their home. Wifi’s indoor coverage will be less than stellar and not that many poor people live in the most expensive city in america (san francisco)anyway

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