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.

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  • identicon
    jeremy, 12 Apr 2006 @ 11:56am

    Earthlink seems to be looking for a comeback, but if they damper the free stuff that much i dont see it becoming as popular... alot of people want to be able to demo everything or close to it, then be offered it all unlimited for a fee, if they did a speed cap on free to still be a reasonable speed i could see it taking off much better

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Casey, 12 Apr 2006 @ 12:57pm

    Still, even at $20/mo it's better than paying the same or more for internet access just in your home. If it's city wide, then couldn't you take your laptop anywhere in the city and access the net? Nothing in this world is free, and I doubt we'll ever see truely "free" internet acess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous coward, 12 Apr 2006 @ 12:59pm

    $10-20 for moderate speed WiFi access beats $50 to comcast. you can poo-poo all you want. sounds good to me. and capped and ad-supported free service will be great too. want do you want for nothing?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Allen, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:28pm

      Re: Free Internet Access

      Although is sounds like a good idea, I (and many) would lose too many benefits of having your own residential service. For instance, networking devices together (Tivo, Flie Servers, desktops, etc.). In order for the desktops to be Wi-Fi accessible, you would have to pay for adapters, which are reasonable but still not free. To limit my viewing capacity (local sites only?) would totally put the hammer down on this idea. The great part about the Internet is to be able to reach out to the far corners of the world and in terms of commerce and such. To only get my local targeted (area) websites just wouldn't work for me. Since I already pay Charter for cable, which also provides the needed services for my Vonage, I would rather pay the extra few bucks to have unprecedented speed and access to the Web.

      This is nice for someone that needs to be mobile, but if it isn't 100% open and free, it sounds like there are too many drawbacks.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2006 @ 6:17pm

        Re: Re: Free Internet Access

        Don't worry about the 'local sites only' clause - it won't take 24 hours for a 'local' site to offer a URL passthrough script, mark my words...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jonathan Garcia, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:03pm

    The free WIFI was a little too good to be true. I think if people could subscribe to this city-wide service it would be good, as long as it was competitive to other Internet Service Providers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    KinGnU, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:04pm

    makes sense

    it makes sense due to the fact that they start providing the free service there will be a point were it will not be enough and then they will have to invest more and more, and i personally think that as a business they wont keep that service for a long time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:12pm

    why...

    why do people still expect that IT be free?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brian, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:37pm

    Why should it be free?

    Why should internet be free? I don't ever remember pay phones being free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alpharocker, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:40pm

    Philly was never free

    The Philly wi-fi initiative was never a "free" only proposal. From the moment it had been suggested most said there was the potential a small fee would be involved.

    Also, philly already has $20 wi-fi, at acceptable speeds. Its called Closed Networks. Its not too bad if you don't mind GREAT upload speeds, decent download speeds and signing a contract.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bernie, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:40pm

    There is no

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alpharocker, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:42pm

    $20 wifi

    Oh yeah, and you have to log into your router once every 24 hours.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NGUVU, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:43pm

    Well...

    If the service is free and if they could force the Google search page as the primary gateway and not allowing DNS resolution for any other website...then all users would be exposed to Google Adwords (until they get away from search and to the site they choose). With that much exposure, the cost of pay-per-click advertising would dramatically increase along with Google's overall popularity and revenue. Therefore the market value for providing a free WiFi service would skyrocket for Google. This would be a win-win scenario for all parties involved. If you don't want to see light advertising via Goolge Adwords...don't use the free service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      meoryou, 12 Apr 2006 @ 1:59pm

      Re: Well...

      yes, since you know i ignore the ads on my pay connection (and block them too) i'm SURE i am just gonna convert because my access is now "free".... i can get "free" access just about anywhere i want, you would be surprised at how many open wifi spots there are...and how you can offer to setup security on them for a reasonable price (not to mention keep the WEP, WPA etc. keys for later "administration" use >:-) )

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ITGuy, 12 Apr 2006 @ 11:11pm

      Re: Well...

      Extremely well put.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris, 12 Apr 2006 @ 2:11pm

    City Wide Wi-Fi

    The main problem with all WiFi systems is line of sight and signal strength. Having worked for two seperate companies that offer city wide wifi I can assure you that lighting up a entire city is no easy task. A major misconception about city wide wifi access is that you are free to roam about the city and maintain a continous connection. Currently the only way to do this is having a system in place similar to that of a cell phone network. A licensed frequency specificaly for WiFi only. This we see from companies such as Verizon. However, the equipment needed to offer this type of service is by no means cheep, and to use it provide free access means alternative means of revenuve have to be looked for, usualy supported by ads.

    The alternative to providing city wide access is to use either standard 802.11 or MMDS. With MMDS you need a large receiving antenna, a trasnceiver, and a modem which offers virtualy no portability. Not to mention a license from the FCC which sprint has almost exclusive rights too. With 802.11 you have to worry about interferance and SSID authentication. As you move about with your standard 802.11 card scanning for that SSID to connect to, you'll more than likely connect to the same SSID from several transmitters. Knowing which transmitter to connect to is determined by signal strength. So if you're in between two transmitters, and singal strength is fluctuating it's liekly your connection will continualy drop and reconnect between the two.

    So in order to provide a free service to a wide coverage area that is more practical and cost effective than walking into a starbucks, or piggy backing off a random unsecured router, means having equipment that can maintain a continous link with the end user. Seeing as the equipment needed to support a semi-Line of Sight system, that can blast through all the skyscrapers, cars, and whatever other microwave absorbingreflecting objects scatter about a city is pretty costly, I wouldn't expect to see any FREE WiFi service anytime soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Monte Graham, 13 Apr 2006 @ 5:14am

      Re: City Wide Wi-Fi

      I live in St. Cloud,Florida and as of March 6th 06 we have free city wide Wi-Fi highspeed internet service.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Robert, 12 Apr 2006 @ 2:15pm

    Funny

    Ad supported WiFi doesn't sound appealing to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob, 12 Apr 2006 @ 2:20pm

    land of the free, eh?

    "Free" usually translates to "lame." Whenever there is an option for tiered service, the lower tiers usually suck and the tiers that don't suck are pricey. You can get cable for $30 a month, but if you want to watch movies, you need to pay through the nose for a higher tier of service. Just look at the "free laptop" or "free iPod" deals on the Web. You have to jump through a ton of hoops before you get your free item, and the cost, while not necessarily financial, is substantial.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bloke, 12 Apr 2006 @ 4:05pm

    there's free wifi in Long Beach, CA

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bloke, 12 Apr 2006 @ 4:08pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tony, 12 Apr 2006 @ 4:24pm

    There's free WiFi in Riverside, CA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tony, 12 Apr 2006 @ 4:25pm

    Free WiFi in Riverside, CA:
    http://www.smartriverside.com/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anwar, 12 Apr 2006 @ 4:33pm

    Why bother with that when in a fw years time, they could just hook up off a 4g cell phone network??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paulo, 12 Apr 2006 @ 5:34pm

    Most complain, some take action...

    check out http://socalfreenet.org/ for free broadband in San Diego. SoCalFreeNet.org is a non-profit community group dedicated to building, deploying and growing public wireless networks to increase widespread broadband adoption and create an empowered, connected society, where technology becomes a community resource. They are grassroots, community based volunteers who will help you build and use free wireless networks using Wi-Fi technology.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David Mcleod, 12 Apr 2006 @ 5:47pm

    whats WiFi?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DD, 12 Apr 2006 @ 6:51pm

    I Don't Like to Pay

    I don't like to pay my mortgage but I do. Either these services will be worth paying for or they won't. Like's got nothing to do with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DD, 12 Apr 2006 @ 7:14pm

    I Don't Like to Pay

    I don't like to pay my mortgage but I do. Either these services will be worth paying for or they won't. Like's got nothing to do with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gorthax, 12 Apr 2006 @ 7:47pm

    I cant believe no one has said

    mid - late 90`s NETZERO...

    Whats so different? Its just a new generation of ad supported "free"...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2006 @ 8:03pm

    Sgt. Michael Germano and Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis stand in the new mobile command center during a press conference at the Shrewsbury Police station Tuesday.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    name, 12 Apr 2006 @ 8:04pm

    Free WIFI is great !!!

    I love my free WIFI ISP - linksys

    They are great and seems to be everywhere !! we dont need no st*nkin Earthlink paid WIFI

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brian, 12 Apr 2006 @ 8:36pm

    Oakland County, MI, has WiFi

    Oakland County, MI, will be the first large city in the nation to have widespread FREE WiFi. It comes by the end of 2006. I live in this area, and I will reap all the benefits! ha!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnarChaos, 12 Apr 2006 @ 9:31pm

    Google-Earthlink??

    You mean Google-TimeWarner right??

    Is that why TimeWarner(AOL) has made a deal with Google to EXCLUSIVELY use Google search for the AOL software/browser INSTEAD of any other search engine (notably MSN)???

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnarChaos, 12 Apr 2006 @ 9:34pm

    More hotspots

    "... anyone in Kamloops and anyone within a 25 kilometer radius, depending on terrain, of broadcast towers will be able to get high-speed Internet at their home or office."

    from: http://www.darrenbarefoot.com/archives/2004/12/kamloops-the-bastards-gets-wifi-everywhere.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daniel McNerney, 12 Apr 2006 @ 9:36pm

    Free? WiFi

    Thing one as a San Franciscoian I look forward to “low priced WiFi” it solves so many problems. Being able to log on from almost any were in the city (very useful) and not having to pay Att or Comcast for service you don’t use just to get the services you do. I’d much rather use Direct TV and Voip (cheaper).

    Thing two you won’t loose your local home network. You will simply set you computer to act as a gateway to your router

    With the price of dsl and cable now running at close to $35.00 a month (come on forget the lure you in specials) $20.00 dollars a month sounds very reasonable for universal access. This will be a good deal

    Just think of the new Voip wireless phones. Screw your cell bill.

    Daniel McNerney Comcast at home, Att at work. I pay for both

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    confusedwiseman, 13 Apr 2006 @ 5:19am

    I wish

    I've had a hard time finding dsl or cable that is less than $40.00 a month. (The lure you in special was 29.99 / mo.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gary Ferguson, 6 Jun 2006 @ 11:52pm

    Google Needs to Provide WIFI everywhere

    Google's key models work on Internet accessibility. eg. GoogleEarth and the new Spreadsheet App.

    Google therefore should be working on capturing the WIFI world with uncapped everywhere access for under $20.00 per month.

    This will require major Capex and partnership building.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ROBERT PAWLUSIAK, 7 Aug 2007 @ 3:32pm

    FREE WIFI COMES AT A PRICE

    TO ALL THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN A WORLD THAT THINGS SHOULD BE
    FREE THEIR COMES A PRICE THE GOVERMENT SHOULD PAY YOU SAY!
    WELL MY FRIEND THE PEOPLE THAT FUND THE GOVERMENT IS YOU, WEATHER IT IS LOCAL,STATE OR FEDERAL HOW CAN PEOPLE BE NAIVE. BOB PAWLUSIAK

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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