just building a citywide network does not guarantee that people will use it
June 27th, 2006

The New York Times writes about municipal wireless networks that are underutilized because people can use other free wireless hotspots in their locality.

“Yet as Taipei has found out, just building a citywide network does not guarantee that people will use it. Most people already have plenty of access to the Internet in their offices and at home, while wireless data services let them get online anywhere using phones, laptops and P.D.A.’s.”

“….Initially, Q-Ware gave away subscriptions and about 60,000 people signed up. But once Q-Ware started charging for its service in January, only a few thousand subscribers remained. ”

“….There is a lot of hype about public access,” said Craig J. Settles, a technology consultant in Oakland, Calif., and author of “Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless.” “What’s missing from a lot of these discussions is what people are willing to pay for.”

“……”Content is really key,” said Darrell M. West, a professor of public policy at Brown University who conducted a survey of how well governments use the Internet. “It’s not enough just to have the infrastructure. You have to give people a reason to use the technology.”


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