As Internet content grows, both in amount and size, even formerly “Acceptable” connections just don't cut it. Most people cannot even stand pay dialup, much less the various forms of free dialup, and now, it seems, free WiFi may become the next
“free dialup”. We've heard many times about cities working on wide, freely available hotspot networks to offer Internet to all the residents, and the biggest such project was one launched in San Francisco, California. The free portion, provided by Google
, is a 300kbit/s line, and, according to some, will only widen the “digital divide” between the haves and the have nots, much akin to broadband vs dialup today.
"There is no way you are going to improve or resolve the digital-divide issue if all you do is put up the network and say, 'That's it,'" Settles said.
Apart from mandated upgrades of the network, Craig Settles, a consultant, says that the people behind it should also offer training. Either way, the project isn't small in scope, and its future is uncertain. Free WiFi everywhere may not be a possibility for years to come, and may be less sugar coated than initially imagined.