The Critical 'I'

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Friday, August 15, 2003

FREE WI-FI IN ST. PETE!
Not just yet, but the goal is to have it in place and running by the end of this year! City bigwig Don Shea is aiming to turn St. Petersburg, my hometown, into a free wi-fi hotspot mecca on Florida's gulf coast. Shea is the president of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, a group that can push this kind of thing into reality.

I can't wait! I'd love to be able to bring my notebook down here, find some outdoor cafe to snack at, and instantly hook up on the Web. Maybe do some on-the-street blogging.

Of course, this idea seems to ignore the likely objections from providers of pay-for wireless access, like Starbucks (two downtown St. Pete locations, with more likely on the way) and various hotels. How would this free wi-fi spread coexist with those services? Would it even be able to get off the ground if it was perceived to be hurting businesses? I'm crossing my fingers.