Om Malik has a roundup of municipal and state-wide efforts to build out free or low-cost networks. The NY Times discusses a partnership to bring free (and fee-based) Wi-Fi to SiliconValley as a whole.
Broadly available, low-cost Wi-Fi means:
- The Internet can push to near ubiquity in major population centers
- Everywhere, always-on means more hours, more usage
- Wi-Fi mobile devices can be used as phones (carrier voice MOUs and data revenues go down). And consumers can be more accurately targeted for LBS
- Telcos and cable co ISPs (unless they’re building the Wi-Fi networks) have diminished power to enact Net non-Neutrality
But it also potentially means less data security and more nasty surveillance by crooked governments or private sector criminals.