Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 8, 2006
Many cities are currently trying to figure out how to pay for citywide Wi-Fi operation — while offering the service to their residents for free. Many, like San Francisco, are counting on ad revenues from local businesses to raise much of the necessary funds. Alas, as a new study done by Craig Settles, of Successful.com, and sponsored by Embarq, indicates, local businesses aren’t lining up to pay for Wi-Fi ads.
Of the 176 business owners surveyed, 57% say they won’t be interested in buying Wi-Fi network ads. While the rest are more open to the idea, 45% of them say they’d only be willing to pay less than $100 per month for the ads. Chances are, it will take a long time to get to even $100, as, before they pay up, advertisers will want to see these networks reach critical mass of users.
What this means: To maintain and operate their Wi-Fi networks, cities are bound to look for alternative funding sources, to supplement advertising. Chances are, they will start charging user fees. While, today, most cities dream of free Wi-Fi networks, that will likely remain just that — a dream.