March 21, 2003  ·  Lessig

So this is the best I’ve seen so far: The Talbott Hotel in Chicago has free wireless in the rooms and public areas. No registration at all. The signal strength is at the maximum; the connect time was exactly 5 seconds.

Competition is amazingly great way to get great infrastructure built. Someone ought to tell the FCC.

  • fred

    It’s easy to get excited about this sort of thing. But the truth is that competition gets some infrastructure built. It will not get universal access built. I do not mean to make the perfect the enemy of the good, but competition is only part of building this new infrastructure. It is the part that can serve wealthy individuals and corporations that use hotels.

    Government regulation made telephone access available for every household in America that wanted it. Profitable urban telephone service subsidizes unprofitable rural service. Goverment subsidization has made the Internet broadly available in schoolrooms.

    The FCC should be phased out. We no longer need Soviet-style central planning of telecommunications (if we ever did). But every localality needs a plan for universal access. Part of that plan must include some form of voluntary regional, national, and transnational cooperation. Like the Internet.

  • john

    I disagree that the FCC is “Soviet-style planning”. The system of RFCs that “govern” the use of the Internet would be great if applied to the wireless spectrum, but only in an ideal world. With the amount of commercial attention that is on the spectrum right now, the only guarantee that the sprectrum would be kept open for development would be law, and that means the FCC.

    While I agree that there should be global (or at least national) cooperation in the form of planning organizations as well, I also believe that the FCC (i.e. law) will be (at this point) the only thing that could keep the spectrum open for universal innovation.

  • Robert Stewart

    I had a similar great WiFi experience at The Mayflower Park hotel in downtown Seattle last weekend. They have had their WLAN set up for about one month. In our room on the 4th floor (I didn’t try public areas), we had maximum signal strength on our TiBook with an Apple Airport card, the ultimate test of a WLAN. The ID for their WLAN appeared automatically in the Airport menu. I selected it, and the Mac connected immediately. Free, fast, and easy.

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