Monday, July 09, 2007

Free Wi-Fi for the East End

In an announcement heralded by state and city elected officials and the Charleston Area Alliance, it was made known today that the East End Main Street folks have secured a grant to provide free Wi-Fi internet for the entire East End of Charleston.

On the surface this sounds like a great idea. I am totally psyched about being able to sit down and blog or answer email anywhere on the East End where I live. I can get rid of my $39.95 per month Suddenlink internet bill!

But I'll bet if I worked for Suddenlink, FiberNet or Verizon and was looking at losing thousands of DSL or cable internet customers I would be singing a different tune!

How can the Charleston Area Alliance be happy about the government getting into competition with business? What's next, city-run coffee shops?


MountainLaurel said...

I think there will still be a market for the high-end providers. After all, WiFi is much slower than DSL or cable and not nearly as reliable. Even though I have a wireless connection that I use for free in my home, I still pay the extra money for a cable connection as a backup and for any secure transactions that I need to make online (such as anything involving a credit card). It would make things a lot easier for me when I'm visiting Charleston. My friend only has dial-up (ick), and I've only found one place with free WiFi that I can use. Do you know of any?

Charles said...

There are actually a few places, Laurel, you can get a free connection. Taylor Books on Capitol Street, Capitol Roasters on Summers and Sylvia's Gourmet Coffee on Virginia St. Gino's Pizza on Washington St. East is free. Also, McDonald's in Kanawha City has pay Wi-Fi but it's cheap. There are others. You can also find unidentified and unprotected signals in many places that you can use.

And good wi-fi isn't slow at all these days. You might notice the difference on a big download, but where I've used public wi-fi I've seen no difference in speed for surfing and email.

Rick Lee said...

WiFi isn't NECESSARILY slow, but I'd be willing to bet the throughput of this big system will be pretty slow... just from the volume of people using it at any one time. I have no idea how much bandwidth they will be paying for, but that's a lot of people to be hooked up to one system with no income. A person like myself would need to be guaranteed a certain level of speed so I'd still have some sort of broadband in my home, but it'll be nice for people to have some sort of free Internet available.

MountainLaurel said...

Thanks a million, Charles, for the tips! I'll have to try them.

I'm still hanging on to my cable service for the security option. No matter how fast it is/gets (and I've got no complaints now except when I'm dealing with video), I'm still making sure that my important personal info is protected. If there is a concerted effort to make the public aware of online security, which I think is necessary, I'm sure a lot of folks will think the way I do.