Don't Get Too Excited About That Free Google WiFi
from the strings-attached dept
There’s been a lot of excitement about the Google-Earthlink bid to build citywide WiFi service in San Francisco, particularly Google’s plans to offer a free, ad-supported service. Now, the two companies are planning to team up in another city, but Earthlink’s CEO says the free services will be much more limited, since he thinks it will be hard to generate the $7 per month per user needed to break even. All users will be able to access are area web sites and Google’s local search — which should put a damper on people’s enthusiasm. While the idea of free citywide WiFi sounds great, it looks like it’s something that’s difficult to deliver: remember, too, that Philadelphia officials first talked up the idea of free WiFi there, and now it’s become $10 or $20 per month. This isn’t to say that municipally-supported WiFi networks are a bad idea, but rather just that they may not provide the free connectivity some people are expecting. Update: A new survey says that people don’t want to pay for public WiFi, which would seem to go against what the Earthlink CEO says — but more people say they don’t use public WiFi because they don’t need to, which would validate what he’s saying. Pricing and business model are things that can be adjusted, but convincing people both that they need to use WiFi networks then getting them to pay for it might be a tough task.