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, 20 Feb 2007 @ 12:54pm

    Houston Chronicle and WiFi

    Mr. Grant,

    Just saw your post about WiFi in Corpus Christi. Although the deadline for you is passed, you really need to:

    1. Visit Corpus Christi
    2. Bring your laptop
    3. Check out the poor network performance yourself.
    4. Interview the mayor of Corpus Christi about the system and the expense to taxpayers
    5. Talk to the people at Prontonetworks
    5. Talk to Earthlink and ask why Corpus Christi is not on their "coming soon" list and if they evaluated the network prior to getting involved with the city's WiFi

    I guess you could talk to people who posted, but it would be valuable to experience the Corpus Christi WiFi first-hand. I'll bet you'd have plenty of questions after your visit! ;-)

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