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The mayor wants 400 free hotspots next year: The city will allow use of public property to assist in antenna location by private firms who will obtain contracts. The proposal will also cut fiber optic fees to promote extension of those lines to 80 percent of Parisian buildings by 2010.
A private firm with city and university support has installed free Wi-Fi: The Italian town benefits from the interest in experimentation, with the local university and foundations named after Marconi—it’s his home town, after all—contribute to the effort in exchange for testing ideas. The network, built by HI-TEL Italia working with local ISP Acantho uses RoamAD equipment.
A Sunday Times of London columnist shreds the notion of for-fee Wi-Fi: He doesn’t like paying for Wi-Fi, for starters, and especially not the prices that are considered reasonable in England. He’s complained to Britain’s spectrum regulator, Ofcom, which seemed to have little interest, and wonders why Wi-Fi hasn’t graduated to amenity status. He notes that two major networks, BT OpenZone and T-Mobile charge £6 and £5 per hour, respectively. (It would be hard to find a US service that charged as much as £3.50 or $6 per hour in the U.S., possibly because of so much free competition.)
Free-hotspot.com will offer advertising-supported Wi-Fi access: The firm, founded in Dublin, will create an international directory of no-cost hotspots as well. No word on whether the venue pays, but it seems unlikely. Previous efforts along this sort in the U.S. have not turned into large-scale operations.
Jim Sullivan at Wi-FiFreeSpot is in Europe, checking out the free hotspots as well as the sights: We met yesterday and it was fun to discover that we’ve had very similar experiences with Wi-Fi in Ireland. Free Wi-Fi is very, very rare here. Jim stumbled on a free hotspot in the pub attached to a B & B out west. As far as I can tell, there are no longer any free hotspots in Dublin.
There are also very few, if any, independent hotspots that are run individually by venue owners in Dublin at least. One issue here, as Jim mentions, is that Internet cafes are absolutely everywhere and they’re really cheap—2 euros or less per hour. Users can bring their laptops and either plug in via Ethernet or use a hotspot there, as Jim discovered. While it’s a different atmosphere than regular cafe, it works well if you are there to get work done. The other hurdle to individuals setting up hotspots in cafes is that broadband is a major pain to get here.
Jim promises to keep writing on his blog from the road and I’ll be interested to see how much free Wi-Fi he finds outside of Ireland. Already it seems like he’s having better luck—he checked into his hotel in Amsterdam and detected four hotspots. He has plans to stop in Prague and Estonia and many other places in between.