In a technological utopia there would be free Wi-Fi for all, as plentiful as the air we breath. Many city mayors have declared grand schemes of blanketing their dominion with free Wi-Fi, yet none of these plans have come to full fruition.
In preparation for the Olympics, London made a deal with Virgin Media to install Wi-Fi hotspots in the Underground. By July, 80 stations are expected to boast free Wi-Fi for the public. The new service is only accessible at the platforms (not on the trains), but it will still be very handy for locals and visitors alike.
However, the Wi-Fi is not planned to remain free with pay-as-you-go or subscription services after the Olympics. So another free Wi-Fi concept succumbs to the heavy hand of capitalism. But, wait, are capitalist entities really to blame for the lack of free public Wi-Fi?
Non-profit organizations like NYCwireless and Montreal’s Ile Sans Fil (wireless island) have taken a different approach. They believe the onus of providing free public Wi-Fi service is not on the state, but local business owners. They encourage and facilitate the process of creating hotspots. This has proven to be a win-win situation as business owners draw more traffic, the city’s image is given a boost and the public gets free Wi-Fi. So, we may be able to have our cake and eat it too!