First NOTHING is free…
Then it gets down to who should pay for it…
most hotels provide wifi access, and I would offer that it is included in the room rate, Still seeing some up-scale chains breaking out the charge but most don’t.
NOT a big fan of flying but would offer that wifi access could/should be included in what the airlines pay the airport to use the facility.
Metro governments have tried to provide wi-fi access. Was involved in the San Francisco, Houston, and Huntsville’s service. Houston and San Fran failed because it was NOT cost effective to provide every citizen with wifi access.
The numbers for San Fran were at the peak of usage there was something like 125,000 users of which well over 50,000 users were NOT residences of San Fran at a cost of some 3 Million dollars a year.
It failed rather early in the Houston expirement because of the cost of providing reasonable access in over 550 square miles of area. not to mention attempting to provide access to well over 1.5 Million “customers”
Huntsville Al has succeded rather well, IMO, because they limited the Access Points to 3 and because the logon process required some validation of Huntsville residency and because of some limits placed on connection time. (small aside: the WAP’s were among the very first places in Huntsville which had Power restored after the April 27 tornadoes and the area was packed with people for 3 days until TVA was able to restore power to most of Huntsville)
In all 3 cases, and even in the hotels/airports security has got to be an issue, and since wifi is NOT free someone has to pay for that. And as with most security issues, security is the first thing to go to cut costs.
Even today when I travel I do not use the “free” wifi unless it is absolutly necessary and then NEVER for issues that could put my data at risk.
I like the model that several cities have deployed for internet access through a pay as you go plan. Would offer that in the two cases that I am somewhat familiar with (Salem MA and Knoxville TN) the access wasis subsidized by the local utility company/organization and most of the cost of the infrastructure was paid for by the local utility/taxpayers.
This model allows as much security as you wish… and provides services to only those people who provide at least some of the costs. IMO the difficulty in changing this to wifi access is the cost of the infrastructure.