What went wrong with Riverside's free wi-fi?

Wed, 2013-09-11 06:05 -- Jesse Berst

free citywide wi-fiAs this story from Riverside illustrates, it is hard to cost justify a citywide wireless network for the sole purpose of providing Internet access to cities. One solution -- albeit one that requires collaboration between different departments and even between different entities -- is to share the costs and then share the asset.

However you make the business case, a citywide wireless network is necessary long-term to collect sensor data from your smart grid, smart buildings, smart water network, smart street lights, smart roadways, etc., etc. -- Jesse Berst

Riverside, California's free citywide wireless network has been touted as among the largest municipal deployments in the U.S. But according to a story in The Press-Enterprise, its days may be numbered.

The original concept had been to provide Internet connectivity for low-income families throughout Riverside. But according to the Press-Enterprise story, the system didn't provide the range of coverage anticipated and has been criticized as being slow and unreliable.

A council committee recently voted to take down some of the equipment and is reportedly eyeing a faster system that would serve fewer locations.


Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.