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Leave the risk to the pioneers, says American network giant Comcast. On the other hand, if public WiFi does work, then it may follow Verizon in setting up hotspot nodes on all its street phone booths.

The project which has frightened Comcast is one which matches the planned Soho WiFi service which Westminster council hopes to roll out.

Verizon has already announced its WiFi experiment, which will flood New York City with a thousand hotspots. But it is ahead of Westminster; it has started already, and there are 150 phone boxes with broadband internet fed in over copper, and a wireless transceiver covering the surrounding streets.

According to reporter Peter J. Howe, of the Boston Globe Comcast will only follow suit if the Verizon project is very successful.

David Fellows, Comcast's chief technology officer, is "nervous" about using unlicensed spectrum, reports Howe. Fellows is happy to see Verizon test the waters, confident that if it works, he can roll out a rival service as quickly as they do.

Verizon's plan is to provide free hotspot access to people who subscribe to its DSL services. But Fellows is sceptical: "I always thought really hard about launching a commercial service in unlicensed spectrum," he told an audience in Boston. He cited interference, overcrowding, and security as issues that worried him. ©Newswireless.net

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