Popularity of Wi-Fi in cities and towns

Earlier this year, CNET published a report on the popularity of Wi-Fi hotspots in cities such as Athens (Georgia), Long Beach (California) and Ashland (Oregon).

The Athens project, which is a public-private partnership that involves the county government, the University of Georgia, and local businesses, involves the creation of a “hotzone” similar to that in Long Beach. Some cities such as Ashland are taking a more direct and involved approach. According to CNET, Ashland operates its own fiber-optic communication lines and charges Wi-Fi networks $28 to tap into the infrastructure although non-profit organizations get access for free.

By acting as carriers, municipalities may be able to provide a genuinely useful service to its residents AND make money, too. Faced with massive budget deficits, municipalities should explore the possibilities.