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The Future of Wireless

Because I believe a very important part of our future will rely on as many people as possible accessing the Internet cheaply and quickly, I thought you'd want to know about the largest Wi-Fi hotspot in the world: A 700-square-mile stretch of north central Oregon near and around Hermiston.

Politics -- in the form of lobbying from cable and phone providers -- have stymied many projects in major urban markets across the country. So much so,Philadelphia's plan to build a citywide Wi-Fi network sparked state legislators (prompted by phone and cable companies) to limit every other town in the state to do the same thing!

Out in this desolate stretch of Oregon near the Washington border, however, an entrepreneur attracted little resistance in spending $5 million to build a Wi-Fi network free to the public. But he could afford to build a network in an area where the local phone company couldn't justify one, thanks to profitable contracts with city and county agencies and big farmers in the region.

Again, the biggest obstacle to creating these cheap wireless networks isn't the building of them, according to experts. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, it's more a matter of "who's-going-to-get-a-piece-of-the-action?".

Wired News October 16, 2005

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