You are here

Cities learning there is no wireless "free lunch"

It seems the "pixie dust" of "free" municipal wifi isn't so "magical" after all.

To quote one of my conservative heroes, the late great Milton Friedman, "there is no free lunch."

  • The article chronicles the growing trend that cities around the country are finally learning that simple economic lesson -- which should have been obvious to them from the start.
  • But how could the cities forget the economic truism that "there is no free lunch" and let their expectations so far exceed reality?
    • The answer lies in how many companies, who routinely expect a "free lunch" from communications carriers (like net neutrality supporters: Google, eBay-Skype, Amazon, Intel et.al), whispered in these cities ears that they could easily have free or very low cost wireless broadband access.
      • The problem that these net neutrality/open access proponents brushed under the rug was that building and operating a wireless broadband network, even a lower cost WiFi or WiMax network, still costs a substantial amount of money, and requires substantial resources and expertise to pull off at a minimum quality level.

Bottomline:  What I hope cities take away from this painful lesson is what they were taught when they were young: "if it looks too good to be true, it is."

  • Next time, hopefully these city officials learned they listened to folks with a self-serving net neutrality agenda, and didn't question their blanket assertions rigorously enough.
  • The big takeaway should be that a "free" Internet is an widely unrestricted Internet, not an Internet with no cost of use -- a huge and important distinction.

 

Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths