Another Muni WiFi Network Gets An Early Thumbs Down

from the good-idea-bad-execution dept

Earlier this month, the city of Corpus Christi, Texas launched its municipal WiFi network, which its vendor said was the largest of its kind, covering more than 100 square miles. However, like some other muni WiFi projects, early reviews don't sound too encouraging -- complaints echoed earlier this month in Portland as well. It's the same sort of thing early users in other cities have reported: weak signal strength, low speeds and difficulty connecting. Many of these problems occur when people try to use the services indoors (as one does), highlighting one of the drawbacks of using WiFi for this type of application: it doesn't penetrate buildings well, particularly when the router's at some distance away. Many of the network vendors say users need to buy repeaters to overcome this, something that takes away some of the "free" aspect of these networks, as well as something that takes away from their attraction to visitors. While we remain bullish on the general idea of municipal broadband, it's still not clear at all that WiFi is the best way to deliver it. Many of the muni WiFi "success stories" raise as many questions as they answer, and the truth of how well these networks are working remains pretty muddy. Again, municipal broadband is an idea with a lot of merit, but it looks like a lot of muni-WiFi rollouts are based on the wrong reasons, and are possibly just using the wrong technology.

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  1. identicon
    Dave, 13 Feb 2007 @ 6:36pm

    More Information on WiFi

    I did some searching on the WiFi situation and it apparently works in some locations. Now the interesting thing is that Earthlink does NOT list Corpus Christi as one of their current or future network locations. Odd considering they are supposed to pass this off in June, four months away.

    The good news is that IF they get the network to work the price of $21.95 that they charge at all other WiFi MUNIs would be reasonable. If the City of Corpus Christi tries to run their usual high-price scam and attempts to charge $30.00 it will be a major flop. Here in this city they charge outrageous prices for utilities (twice as much for electricity as other locations in the United States) so anything is possible in their pricing structure given the rip-off nature of this city. But $21.95 would be reasonable and I would hope they would offer it free to low-income homes for students, etc.

    In any case, Earthlink would need to get this thing to WORK and then they would need to give customers a "back-up" dial-up account if the WiFi fails.

    Here is the Earthlink MUNI WiFi information and pricing and not a word about "coming soon" to Corpus Christi.

    http://www.earthlink.net/wifi/

    The information from Earthlink raises more questions than answers. Maybe they've actually seen the overall performance of the network and they are getting cold feet.

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