Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chicago Doesn’t Want to be Covered in WiFi

Just as several cities, including Canada’s own Toronto, ramp up for blanket WiFi service, Chicago has decided not to proceed with it. Why? Officials say it would be too expensive, and not enough people would actually use it.

I can’t argue with that. I live in the heart of downtown Toronto, right smack-dab in the middle of our blanket WiFi One Zone high-speed Internet, which is offered through Toronto Hydro Telecom. When this service was on free trial, I tried constantly to log on, and although I could see the network, I could never successfully get to the page to set up an account and log in. Funny enough, now that you have to pay to use it, my notebook constantly picks up the network and tries to log me on. Sure, it’s cheaper than my current high-speed package. But time is precious, and there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get online and not being able to.

Plus, I don’t trust services like blanket WiFi to offer speeds that could rival my high-speed Internet at home; and saving a few bucks isn’t worth the potential for pulling my hair out because of super-slow speeds, whether I'm at home, or sitting in a coffee shop.

However, as they say, don't knock it 'til you try it, right? Maybe one sunny day, if I'm sitting on patio and feel like propping open my laptop to get some work done, I might just pay the $10 and try it out .

Meanwhile, the future of blanket WiFi is looking bright, as many tout WiMax as the “next big thing” in wireless technology. “WiMAX makes broadband as ubiquitous as air, and we believe it is key,” said Motorola President Greg Brown at the Canadian Telecom Summit that was held in June in Toronto, ON.

As technologies like WiMax and 3G for mobile devices continue to develop, blanket wireless might become a much more attractive option.

[Photo: Toronto Mayor David Miller and Toronto Hydro Telecom President, David Dobbin log on to the One Zone WiFi network while on King St. in Toronto, ON.]

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