Defending Atlanta’s Wi-Fi

I’m a fan of free wi-fi. Any longtime readers of the Metblog should know that. And, I actually agree with the article I linked to below. Atlanta is very wi-fi friendly. Just look at the number of hotspots that 3rd Wave provides. Countless other places provide free wi-fi through other means – Taco Mac, Panera, Mellow Mushroom Brookhaven, and tons of others.

Now, an argument might be made that Atlanta isn’t wi-fi friendly because it doesn’t provide city-wide, public access wi-fi like Athens, San Fran, or other places apparently do (I could be misreading the articles, though, and could be wrong). And to the people who think that this is something that ought to be a public venture (performed by the city government), I can only ask a few questions: Is this really what you think the city of Atlanta should spend its money on? Aren’t there more important civic tasks that need attending to? Especially considering that the private sector is doing such a good job of blanketing the city without government help. Isn’t introducing city-wide wi-fi a move that helps mainly the wealthy – you know, those that can afford laptops?

Just some questions. Me, I’m all in favor of having Atlanta underneath a wi-fi blanket. But I’d much rather it be done by market demands (or, maybe even by neighborhood Civic Associations). If you’re in favor of it, explain to local bars/hangouts that you are more likely to go and stay there if they had wi-fi. Go to places that have free wireless more than those that don’t. To me, this is the best, most reasonable way to get it done. There are too many potholes, sewage problems, and other issues that the city government needs to handle to have it spend money on free wireless.

6 Comments so far

  1. notsofreemarket (unregistered) on October 28th, 2005 @ 10:17 am

    Yeah the free market works for everything. Worked in New Orleans! Just tell Greyhound you’d be more likely to use their service more often if they would help evacuate you in the event of an emergency :D

  2. Daniel (unregistered) on October 28th, 2005 @ 10:20 am

    Umm… I’m not quite sure I was making an argument that the “free market works for everything.” Especially because I said that I would be open to having neighborhood civic associations provide it. And I think that there is a pretty distinct difference in the luxury item that is wi-fi and the things that went wrong in New Orleans. No, I know that there is. It’s pretty ridiculous to even compare the two.

    Basic survival (protection of life) is significantly different than wi-fi capability. I apologize for not making that clearer, I just thought it was pretty obvious.

  3. Lori (unregistered) on October 28th, 2005 @ 10:31 am

    Please, puhleeeaaaase let the city concentrate on the sewer problem. There’s going to be construction on my (and Will’s) street for 6 weeks now due to problems!

  4. sabrina (unregistered) on October 28th, 2005 @ 11:48 am

    I agree that the city has much more urgent matters to attend to, but it would be stellar if local government could be a bigger supporter and proponent of free wi-fi being provided throughout the metro area. I’ve been to many cities where, like you said, there are free hotspots provided by local businesses, neighborhoods, and communities rather than local government, and I’m all for that. But I’d rather see the city work with those entities to help enable free wi-fi services rather than spend so much resources and money on implementing paid wi-fi at the airport. I could be wrong, but I would guess that the road warriors who most critically need access while at the airport already have a club membership or have some other way to access the existing paid hotspots in the airport. It’s not like there was no wi-fi at the airport before.

  5. Don (unregistered) on October 28th, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

    I agree with Daniel. Let businesses that want to attract customers that would use wi-fi set up their own hot-spots. Govt. provided wi-fi may be free to use, but it is not free to set up the network, believe me. That money is better suited elsewhere. As private businesses compete, so do municipalities to attract these businesses. And if Atlanta has to provide a wi-fi network or lose companies to other cities, we will get one.

  6. shelbinator (unregistered) on October 28th, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

    I wasn’t in any way suggesting Atlanta spend tax dollars on universal wireless access or anything; considering that god-awful smell I’m assaulted with every time I pass a storm drain, I’m with Lori on this one. I was just saying a personified Atlanta shouldn’t pat itself on the back like it’s the most awesomest city in the South as far as wireless internet goes, ’cause we’re really a bunch of Johnny-come-latelys here. I think market forces could totally drive WiFi expansion (I’m obviously more likely to stay and order 3 more cups of $3 coffee when I can work online, too), I’ve just always been surprised when they DON’T.

    Lord oh lord please, please don’t let them start offering free WiFi at the Vortex, though. That’s the last thing my dissertation (or my liver) needs.

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