Inspector Gadget: Wireless Everywhere

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Today is the second installment in the month-long series with tech guru Peter Rojas, founder of gdgt, Engadget, and Gizmodo.

Today’s Topic: The prospects of free universal Wi-Fi; and what that'll mean for your phone's ability to help you connect with other users.


Peter Rojas

Comments [18]

JP from NJ

William from Manhattan ,

You need to get of Manhattan more often into the real America.

Historically speaking in this country, people did not flock to cities for efficient living or because it was eco friendly or because it was hip. They did it for jobs created by the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution left in the 70’s and so did the jobs and people. The void was never replaced with new jobs and that was the begining to the end of many, many American cities. You must not read the news to often because there are still many densely populated cities in this country that are crumbling and dieing that don’t even come close (and never will) to fitting your efficient and happy description of what you think a city and city life is and should be. Sure there are many turnaround success stories about some broken cities. But there are far more sad stories. Time to wake up, get off you high horse and look around. Just to name a few, go visit Detroit, Milwaukee, Toledo or even closer to home, Bridgeport. All once great thriving cities that will probably never be gentrified or thrive again. Parts of these cities are very, very dangerous places to be. I’ve visited all of these places and many more burnt out cities and lived in Bridgeport for 4 years. As for my health, safety and sanity, I’ll take living in the rural south over any of these cites any day of the week.

Mar. 11 2010 03:04 PM
William from Manhattan

JP in NJ
Though mass transit is currently paid for in part by tax dollars (I have no idea if it is 50% right now, but I have heard similar figures in the past), the extent of that subsidy PALES in comparison to the amount that every car driver in this country is subsidized. I would gladly pay the full price of my subway ride if the full cost of government spending that allows for our nations overdependane on individual automobile transport were borne by drivers alone. The potential cut in my income taxes would be amazing. I have never heard anything to support the notion that density causes crime, and I doubt there is anything to support that claim. Indeed, some of the most violent places in America are in the rural South.
As for trash, the idea that dense areas must dispose of all of their trash within their own political boundries makes as much sense as requiring every American to keep all the trash they produce within their own home or yard. We produce no more trash than anyone else so it is not a matterof efficiency, it is a question of disposal. We have to pay distant localities to take our trash - that fine with me.
Finally, if you are suggesting that cities have more "I'm better than you" people than the suburbs or rural areas . . . I will assume you are joking.

Mar. 11 2010 12:34 PM
JP from NJ

William from Manhattan

I agree with you on rural areas should pay more for high speed access. But “We efficient urban-dwellers” is more then a bit of a stretch. High density living areas have higher crime rate that often spills out into surrounding communities that get to pay and deal with it. You have much higher day to day municipal costs. And your efficient urban trash is usually hauled way far away to rural areas who get to deal with. Don’t forget your ultra efficient transit system that is so efficient it has to be subsided by more then %50 to keep running.

Not everybody is able to live in cities and not everyone wants to live in cities because in many cities they are full of “I’m better then you” syndrome coming from “efficient urban-dwellers”. Your living in a glass house so put those rocks down….

Mar. 11 2010 11:30 AM
William from Manhattan

I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for people who live in rural areas complaining that broadband is too expensive in where they live and that governement should subsidize that expense. That's just the cost of living in a low-density area - just like astronomical housing costs are the price we pay for living in high-density areas. We efficient urban-dwellers already subsidize phone, cable, electricity, transportation and every other government supplied service for rural areas. I have no problem with the idea that such places will have to pony up for the real cost of getting the internet to their homes.

Mar. 11 2010 10:59 AM
dr d b karron from Long Beach NY

Dear Brian;
I'm listening right now on the air, and
instead of attempting to call in, here I go!

COMMUNITY WIFI; an idea common in California, and more to the heart of the original UNIX shareing/comunal/hippy concept.

In a COMMUNITY WIFI, you give up some of your bandwidth to retransmit messages from someone else. The are community wifi services where neighbors carry traffic for other neighboors, and youc an download the software into old linksys wireless routers.

Why has this idea not caught on in NYC ?
The cable companies can put you in jail for
rebroadcasting broadband video, but retransmitting/routing internet packets is built into the basic design of the Internet (the inter in the net is thr routing between local networks!).

I love your show and listen too much while I program/work/waste time on the internet.

dr. K

Mar. 11 2010 10:58 AM
hjs from 11211

by the way my verizon connection is SO slow any word on that???

Mar. 11 2010 10:57 AM
bob from huntington

in the 19th century, the country was littered with privately owned toll roads–that in many instances became an impediment to economic progress.

that's what we have with today's telecommunications companies. yes, they built the systems (no doubt indirectly supported by consumers in the form beneficial tax policies , etc.) but at some point we have to realize their current and proposed fee structures are impeding progress.

Mar. 11 2010 10:57 AM
hjs from 11211

will this matter if there's not net neutrality

Mar. 11 2010 10:56 AM
JP from NJ

Wait a minute, you have no problem paying $50, $70, $120 a month for your cell phone so you can talk while you shop at the grocery market. Why should you get free internet access? You should have the right to have access to the internet, but not free…

Mar. 11 2010 10:56 AM

At a point, I hope broad public WIFI becomes as essential as physical infrastructure as more independent devices connect to the internet. Think connected power meters, traffic lights, security cameras, weather stations.

Mar. 11 2010 10:55 AM
Ben Greenfield

The Internet should be given the same status in our democracy as the public library system.

Mar. 11 2010 10:53 AM

Even if you live within the denser areas, the infrastructure is literally crumbling. The box handling my dsl in the backyard is rotting off the post!

It's amazing that you can live 1-3 stops from Manhattan and still not have access to the latest broadband technology until 10 years after it's introduced.

I see nothing wrong with providing at least a bare-bones wi-fi network for emergencies. A lot of people depend on access for work, and if the dsl is out sometimes they can't send a repair person for several days.

Mar. 11 2010 10:53 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn, NY

I never thought I'd say this, but I think "free" wifi is dicey. Things that cost money in order to create or maintain infrastructure can't possibly be free.

On the other hand, i find it criminal that there are only 2 cable companies in NYC, and we have no competition or choice for cable modem carriers. Cablevision is a joke, and overpriced, so another option would be optimal.

Mar. 11 2010 10:52 AM
DSal from NYC

What are health implications of wifi and how will it affect us if we are surrounded by it? Studies have been done in the EU showing ill effects of powerful wifi systems on a broad scale, but as of yet the US telecom companies have managed to squash reseach into the risks.

Mar. 11 2010 10:52 AM
nat from Brooklyn

Its not just about rural areas. Crown Heights did not have any broadband options until Cablevision started offering service in 2005.

Access to high speed internet is distributed by looking at income distribution maps and starting where the money is. Park Slope has had several options for broadband since the nineties. A mile away in Crown Heights it was dial up only.

The same patter is repeating with Verizon's fiber network.

Mar. 11 2010 10:51 AM
Betty Anne from UES

What are the environmental and biological concerns over Wifi? I know people that paint their bedrooms in paint that deflects wifi signals.

Mar. 11 2010 10:50 AM
Zack Miller from minneapolis

by the time we get universal wi-fi, i predict the health effects will just start to be accepted/believed.

cancel your cell phones, plug in your ethernet...

Mar. 11 2010 10:50 AM

Brian, I think it's hilarious that for the introduction to your segment on universal wi-fi, you use the sound effect of an old computer on dial-up!

Mar. 11 2010 10:45 AM

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