St. Cloud Sees Muni-WiFi Woes

from the wonky-wireless dept

St. Cloud, Florida, has attracted some attention for being the first place in the US to roll out free citywide WiFi service. One month in, the city of 28,000's 15-square-mile network is hitting some road bumps, with users complaining about dead spots and weak signal strength. It's only been a month, so it's still too early to condemn the network, but the tale does serve as a reminder that despite all the hype surrounding citywide WiFi, it remains something of an unproven commodity, both technically and financially. Municipal WiFi is a compelling idea that offers lots of benefits beyond just simple internet access. But the hype surrounding it is deafening, and it's pretty obvious that these networks are going to have some teething pains, and it's going to be a while -- if ever -- before they deliver all their promised benefits.

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  1. identicon
    Lucas, 5 Jun 2006 @ 10:06am

    Wi Fi works in St Cloud

    I live about miles (by how the signal travels) from downtown St Cloud and it works great. I'm on a Dell laptop with the built in G card and it is just as responsive as my Brighthouse Cable modem. The download speeds are a consistant 4 Mb and uploading is between 500-800 Kbps. I won't be cancelling my Internet because I need a dedicated line, but I know several of my neighbors are dropping their ISP and using the free wide area connection.

    The first time you use the service, you have to sign up for a free account and it saves a cookie on your machine that allows you to use it normally each time. I am very impressed with it thus far. My girlfriend and I take our laptops to the park nearby and surf/email while enjoying being outdoors.

    If you read up on the financing of the plan, you'll see that they are saving 4-6 jobs and using funds from improved utility conservation efforts to pay for the 350K it costs per year to run it.

    As far as the whole big brother complaint, they have the same amount of access to your data as any ISP you are using now. There is no difference.

    I'm a supporter of it. As someone who makes a living off the Internet, it is very nice that this small town is embracing the technology at hand and giving us the ability to surf anywhere.

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