June 21, 2005

Free Wi-Fi Axed in Orlando

City of Orlando has pulled the plug on their experiment in free Wi-Fi. According to The Register usage was 27 people a day. T-Mobile was losing $10 for every $1 in revenue. And in the July 5 Forbes one of the big stories is mesh networks (low cost wi-fi for muni's) [subscription required] which are being fought by the Telcos and Cable people.

Metropolitan Wi-Fi has become the new cause for the internet lobby ever since the short-lived public Wi-Fi bubble burst a couple of years ago. In early 2003, fuelled by a $300m Intel ad campaign, bloggers urged the nation's coffee shops to install 802.11 LANs to drive up revenues. But by August NewsWeek had picked up on our characterization of this as a 'Bubble'. T-Mobile was losing $10 on every $1 of revenue from its Starbucks roll-out, and the magazine blamed "optimistic analysts making the rounds of technology conferences turned pep rallies," a permanent feature of Silicon Valley life.

The introduction of free Wi-Fi didn't bring in new revenue for most cafe owners, and added a new frustration: they now had to ask the low-spending bloggers who squatted their cafes all day to button up their pyjamas, or leave.

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Posted by keefner at June 21, 2005 09:34 PM