Wednesday, April 4, 2007

WiFi editorial misses the point

I was surprised to read that the Idaho Mountain Express has taken a stand against the city of Ketchum's proposal to provide free WiFi access in the downtown core. WiFi is a way of life now in many cities, and the mayor deserves more credit for his forward-thinking stance on this issue.

We are a tourist destination, and it makes a lot of sense for our visitors to have easy access to the Internet. Most of us have horror stories about trying to get online while traveling. Local business catering to the visitor could benefit too by forgoing the expense and technical problems associated with maintaining individual WiFi hotspots for the public. And, for locals who work in the field, WiFi would offer the benefit of access from your vehicle—satellite Internet service is prohibitively expensive.

As far as cutting into the business of existing providers, that seems overstated since most of us do not live downtown and would thus keep our home accounts—and larger local businesses are not likely to rely on an unsecured connection over which they lack direct control. The buzzword for this sort of community service is "intelligent infrastructure," and I'm hoping Ketchum proceeds with the plan—it's smart and will be good for business.

Pam Parker


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