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Would You Like WiFi With Your Coffee?

Esme Vos and I were having coffee in San Francisco a week or so back when she revealed her idea that would solve San Francisco, and many other cities Muni WiFi woes.

Now why does this make sense versus the stupid concept of what I labeled Homeless Wireless two years or so back when Earthlink and the various cities followed some consultants lead on how to best deploy WiFi?

Simple. It works best indoors. The model Earthlink was following was great if you were:

a) On the street

b) Ten to fifteen feet inside a building

c) No Higher than the second floor of most buildings

Last time I checked, cities like San Francisco and Philadelphia were building all kinds of new office towers (have you seen the Comcast Tower in Philadelphia?) Well there's no way the Earthlink model would have worked there.

Esme's model, which takes into account the many arcane and "interesting" laws in San Francisco is simple. Pass a law.

Now here's the great thing. Give the coffee shop operators an annual credit against their taxes for the cost of a 1.5 meg DSL line and a router. Let's see, that's about $300 a year, versus the millions it would cost to build out the system that never came to be.


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Ricky Cadden

Why not offer the same tax break to all businesses in a certain area? Though I wonder, obviously you'd need to setup some sort of quality control system, to prevent someone from ordering the cheapest data package there is and claiming to offer free WiFi.


I like the tax credit idea. Far more efficient economically. But if you read the comments to my blog post, you and I are "communists". So funny.


This is what nonprofit groups like Personal Telco ( have been trying to do for many years. I think Esme is right, but she is discounting all of the good work groups like this have already done.

Cities don't need to make businesses do this, they already want to. It also belies, as Esme is often wont to do, the availability and financial concerns of many businesses paying for backhaul bandwidth. This might be the biggest difficulty for growth for these types of networks.

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