so long, wireless cities

I have always been deeply skeptical of the wireless cities idea. The business models of cities teaming with ISPs to give away free access to the Internet via city-wide wireless networks never made sense, the idea always seemed incompatible with the desires of law enforcement for tracking and surveillance, and the need to upgrade routers every couple of years seemed insurmountable (oh, you live in an 802.11b city…). Moreover, having lived in a dense urban area for a decade, I can attest to the difficulty of having wireless cross one floor of an apartment building, let alone an entire city block. Given current technology limitations, there is just too much interference in dense urban environments to make the wireless city a reality. The most naive ideas suggested that giving away wireless services in cities would somehow lead to economic booms. But urban boosters are given to such ideas (remember the Bilbao-effect?), so it’s no great surprise. 

So now it’s over, at least in the United States. Read this article at the New York Times. 

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