There's a fascinating story by Peter Cochrane in the latest issue of the Mobile & Wireless newsletter from the UK site Silicon.com. Peter's been traveling in the US, most recently driving from Boulder Colorado to Mill Valley California (just north of San Francisco). There was free WiFi at every stop along the way including in remote towns in otherwise empty landscape. Peter's list:
The scenic drive included towns such as: Granby, Kremmling, Silverthorne, Vail, Glenwood, Rifle, Mesa, Grand Mesa, Cedaredge, Orchard City, Delta, Montrose, Colona, Ouray, Silverton, Hermosa, Durango, Cortez, Kayenta, Cow Springs, Tonalea, Cameron, Red Lake, Williams, Kingman, Topok, Needles, Ludlow, Barstowe, Hinkley, Four Corners, Mojave, Edison, Bakersfield, Fresno, Fairmead, Gilroy, San Jose, San Francisco, Sausalito, Mill Valley... plus many more.
Peter was connected, for free, at every stop on trip.
A few weeks ago I was on a panel at a TIE Boston meeting on Mobile Video. As there were representatives from Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS on the panel, I pressed them on why anyone would pay for video clips over 3G-EVDO if they could get them as podcasts over free WiFi. Doug Busk (of Verizon Wireless) admitted he was worried that dual mode 3G/WiFi phones could impact their EVDO mobile video services, but implied that serious problems were still several years in the future.
Surely the impact is already upon them. They just don't realize it. I know I considered signing up for Verizon Wireless EVDO service to get coverage in general and at one specific site I frequently visit on weekends. But then free WiFi became available at that site, so I dropped the EVDO idea.