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.

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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.