The largest city wireless project in the USA (and the world?) is in Philly, and was just revived by an investment consortium after being nearly abandoned by Earthlink due to poor signal quality and only 6000 subscriber signups (despite the zero cost where profits will come from advertising). Google’s Mountain View project never took off the way people thought it might.
Attribution for story idea goes to Reuters. Hey, wait, I don’t have to give attribution for a story *idea*, but I’m trying to provide extra attribution in line with my concerns that the AP boycott is distracting bloggers from their responsibility to stop doing so much leeching of stories from AP, Reuters, and other mainstream legacy media outlets not to mention other bloggers.
My gut take on citywide WIFI is that a good quality signal with good bandwidth is the key, along with a *single* really good advertising salesperson who is also an internet evangelist. Once local businesses wake up to how much most of them are missing the boat on the internet marketing (preferrring to squander too much on yellow page and other print ads), city WIFI ads should practically sell themselves.
People don’t mind advertising all that much – look for example at pretty much all internet, all broadcast TV, and much of Cable TV right now. PBS doesn’t have advertising? Nonsense! Those interminable and lame pledge breaks and increasingly aggressive “not advertising” sponsor bits are the equivalent of advertising to anybody but the most nitpicking PBS volunteer. Not to mention that the specials shown during the pledge sessions are often specifically designed to get more pledges.
Citywide WIFI? Free. Advertising Philly Cheesesteaks on Philadelphia’s Citywide WIFI? Priceless.