Dublin's free Wi-Fi falls foul of competition law
Private companies only
Dublin has abandoned its plan to blanket the city with free Wi-Fi as it thinks it might breach EU law on state aid, and they haven't got the €27m it's going to cost anyway.
The opposition Labour Party, who originally proposed the plan, are claiming the council has been nobbled by telcoms companies who don't want to see free access undercutting their business.
If the deployment was intended to have a premium level of service, to help funding, then there could well be a legal issue with the government paying for the network to be built. That could constitute illegal state aid.
But if the service is given away free then lack of money is more likely to be the problem. Dublin City Council's intention to still provide free broadband to some areas, where there is a lack of broadband coverage, would seem to confirm that.
Municipal Wi-Fi hasn't fared well around the world, partly because blanketing an area in Wi-Fi is technically very difficult, but also because it's actually pretty pointless. No one is seriously wandering around expecting to receive calls on a Wi-Fi mobile phone as yet, and if you want to use a laptop then it's generally as easy to find a hot spot as it is to find a chair from which to use it. ®
Pants to free wi-fi....
....just buy more beer!
As an IT installer in Dublin, I can confirm:
Irish Broadband - rubbish - I have had several clients who installed it and removed it again (speeed as FAST as 2kbs!!! at times)
Clearwire - seems a bit better but this might only be due to lack of customers
3G - 3 is very good (relatively) for a wireless solution - 250-500 kbs for €20 per month - great if you are out and about. Vodafone does achieve higher speeds but costs €49 per month. Don't know about O2 but similar in price to Vodafone.
I am not a believer in WI-FI (need 3 wireless routers just to cover a basic 1950's style house of 2,000 sq feet!!) the other solutions (IB and clearwire) are limited by bandwidth - the best solution for wireless must be 3G as there are so many base stations - if the provider has each linked with enough bandwidth there is little competition from other users.
Anyway Have DSL at home (3Gbs) and 3G on my pda so am happy out.....
@ No Such Thing as 'Free' Wifi - not so
We have free wifi here in central Helsinki - some rich businessman got so tired of sitting in his favourite cafés but without being able to access his emails, that he simply installed wireless internet covering several blocks of whole city centre by himself, and then allowed the public to use his connection freely. So, yes, free as in beer. Wish it would happen more often...
Add to that the fact that outside of that wifi zone, all of my favourite pubs also offer free wifi of their own (and good, competitive prices on beer), so that's me pretty much covered. Just believe, people, it's all possible!