Wi-Fi as a tool for downtown redevelopment


Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, writes about the joys of wireless blogging from a downtown Knoxville pub:

I LOVE WI-FI: I'm wireless-blogging from the Downtown Grill and Brewery, which is yet another in the list of wifi equipped local businesses.

I note that Shannon Okey is playing up the idea of free wireless hotzones as tools for downtown redevelopment. I think that there's a lot of room for that sort of thing. Knoxville's Market Square, downtown, has wireless access now. I'd like to see that sort of thing spread.

Of course it may be -- as Paul Boutin suggests -- that businesses will take care of this everywhere. (That's actually how it is in Knoxville -- the City hasn't done squat). And in fact, as Boutin also points out, the biggest hassle and expense in setting up a for-pay wifi hotspot is the billing setup. I think that means that wireless internet access may really be "too cheap to meter." Though perhaps that will change as wifi becomes more popular. In the meantime, be sure the hotspots have backup power, so that people can post photos to their blogs during blackouts!

Here's a related story:

Somerville [Massachusetts] is considering setting up an urban hot zone in Davis Square to provide free wi-fi to customers of participating businesses and three parks. The cost to merchants is expected to be approximately $30 per month with no charge to the city for access in the parks.

This is a great idea conceived by Wi-Fi activist Michael Oh of Tech Superpowers (who first set up the NewburyOpen.net hot zone prototype along Newbury Street) and Patrick J. McCormick, the chief information officer for the City of Somerville.

Why not in the Blue Dome and Brady and Greenwood districts -- and why not now? This could be a cheap way to get people excited about downtown and send a message that Tulsa is a city committed to technology. And it could be done by businesses alone or in partnership with government.

Are there any wi-fi hot zones or wi-fi-equipped coffee shops, bookstores, or restaurants around town? E-mail me and I'll give said businesses a free plug.

(Wi-Fi is short for wireless fidelity, a system for wireless computer networking.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 22, 2003 11:04 PM.

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