Are Most Americans Connected? Establishing Free Public Wi-Fi

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Are most Americans connected? For people living in a city with free public Wi-Fi, always on Internet is a reality. Feasibility studies have tended to favor large urban areas as candidates for citywide Wi-Fi, but innovative pilot programs indicate that hotspot networks may be achievable for cities of all sizes. For example, New York City has established a free, public Wi-Fi network using public payphone kiosks as the infrastructure for the hotspots. Nearly all cities have a system of existing payphone kiosks, which in this day of mobile phones tend to attract few users, functioning more as targets for vandals. When a free Wi-Fi infrastructure is built in a municipality, three benefits are immediately apparent: Business opportunity enhancement, alteration of commuting patterns, and reducing the digital divide. A key consideration for cities interested in providing free public Wi-Fi is the potential impact on business opportunities in their communities. Increasingly, entrepreneurs and small business operators actively seek free Wi-Fi hotspots over the course of their business day. Given the choice between a café that offers free Wi-Fi and one that does not, business people predominantly favor the location with an accessible hotspot. One has only to look at the success of Starbucks, wired McDonalds and now even Sheri's restaurants to note the signaling from customers. Consider that people who are visiting an area are attracted to hotspots in much the same manner as business

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