I return to this topic from time to time. Sometimes I’m frustrated at the penny-pinching practices of some establishments who charge an arm and a leg for a few minutes wi-fi access (the latest culprit is Attingo, charging six Euros for 30 minutes access at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport yesterday); sometimes, I find cheap or even free wi-fi access (not least today in Boston).
Today, I read in Silicon.com that The Cloud is to create a wi-fi network across the Square Mile of the City of London (in addition to its project at Canary Wharf, and in eight cities and three other London boroughs – see post), though it will still be something that uses have to pay for (unlike that in nearby Islington). I have blogged before about using DoBo wi-fi at London Bridge, but if I was a regular in the Thames-side area, I could also use the eight-mile long Thames Online mesh network (free trial service available, see TechWeb story).
It is all getting a bit confusing – and Silicon.com recognises this. In a leader today, Making wi-fi a must-have, it argues:
"… one of the big barriers to adoption is payments. Workers don’t want to have to pay one company for access when they are surfing over a coffee in a West End café, then pay another company for access on a train and then a third back over in the City. People want the same roaming experience they get with mobile phones – switch it on and go. Until that happens, for many businesses wi-fi will remain a nice curiosity rather than a must-have."
One thing I did pick out of the initial Silicon.com story, though, was the possibility that the City’s wi-fi network could, in due course, be superseded by WiMax (today, the BBC reports Intel speeds up WiMax plan; Red Herring says Intel Merging Wi-Fi with WiMax). But will we have the same confusing picture if that technology becomes available?