Why Wi-Fi Wont Fly
Cool as it is, CIO Insight's Eric Nee writes, Wi-Fi's acceptance as a medium for public Internet access hasn't taken off. Is there a profitable business model in its future?Its estimated that there are a mere 7,000 people in the U.S. who pay a monthly subscription to a public Wi-Fi networkand I am one of them. I guess that makes me an early adopter, having subscribed since May, when I began leasing an office in downtown Palo Alto, Calif. I picked that location because it was in a Wi-Fi "hot zone," a six-block area where I could get wireless broadband access to the Internet. Compared with the time, hassle and expense of getting a DSL line in the office, Wi-Fi was a breeze. I simply inserted an IEEE 802.11b card in my Macintosh iBook laptop, sniffed out the signal, logged on to WiFi Metros Web site and signed up for service, all in minutes. Now, for just $19.95 a month, I get unlimited broadband wireless access to the Internet from my office and any of the nearly 50 other WiFi Metro locations around the San Francisco Bay area.
Thats all very cool, but unless you frequent places like Palo Alto, San Francisco and New York City, where early adopters congregate, dont expect to find a public Wi-Fi service any time soon. Thats because despite all the media hoopla surrounding Wi-Fi, and the eternal optimism of those in the Wi-Fi industry who believe a boom is just around the corner, the establishment of a reliable and ubiquitous national Wi-Fi network is still years away.