Guest Blog: 'WiFi in US Cities' by Felicity Dryer

Guest Blog: 'WiFi in US Cities' by Felicity Dryer

Think about the last time you couldn’t find Wi-Fi access when you needed it: If you’re like most people, you might have to really think about it, as wireless Internet access seems to be available almost anywhere these days.

And when you consider how many people carry multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices, the need for easy access to wireless Internet connectivity becomes more important, whether you’re at home, at work, or enjoying a park or restaurant. Having easy access to wireless options can allow a parent to attend his son’s football game while remaining connected to work, for example.

Finding the Best Wi-Fi Options

Considering 70% of adults have high-speed Internet access in their homes, and the majority of those make use of a modem and Wi-Fi router combination, many people primarily access Wi-Fi while at home. But there are other options for finding Wi-Fi while you’re away from home too. For example:

  • Personal hotspot. Many people who own smartphones have the ability to create a personal hotspot with the smartphone, allowing for use of a laptop or tablet on the Internet.
  • Business hotspot. Many businesses, such as restaurants and coffee shops, will offer free Wi-Fi at their locations.
  • Public building hotspot. You’ll often find free Wi-Fi connectivity in public buildings, such as libraries or legislative buildings.
  • Municipal hotspot. Some city governments or university settings are offering free Wi-Fi hotspots in outdoor locations, covering a certain area of the city.

Examples of Free Wi-Fi in UK

The creation of outdoor hotspots over a wide area is becoming more and more popular. Throughout the world, you’ll find such options in downtown areas with outdoor restaurants or in parks, for example. Some of the recent developments in the UK for free Wi-Fi include:

  • Glasgow, Scotland. The city is now offering free 24-hour access to its Wi-Fi network, making Glasgow the first Scottish city to offer a free municipal Wi-Fi option.
  • London. Central London has a free Wi-Fi service through a company called O2, with the network’s costs covered by advertising. It was launched in conjunction with the 2012 London Olympics. Additionally, there’s free Wi-Fi in the London Underground system for customers of O2, Virgin Media, Three, EE, and Vodafone.
  • University of Cambridge. The university’s Wi-Fi network has been expanded recently to provide service in some of the city’s public spaces.
  • York. Government grants, including the Super-Connected Cities Programme, and public sector funding helped York install a city-wide public Wi-Fi system.

Not every Wi-Fi municipal option works, however, whether it’s in the UK or the U.S. Swindon was the first UK city to announce plans for a city-wide Wi-Fi network in 2009, but the project was not completed successfully.

The more reliable a public WiFi network, the more stores and other businesses can begin to rely on mobile data and engagement through social media as a core part of their business plan. Cities that invest in good WiFi networks will find both individuals and businesses benefiting from the connectivity, while cities that don’t may find themselves falling behind.

Here’s a visual look at the US Cities with the best public WiFi provision:

WiFi Infographic - US

Felicity Dryer is a journalist based in Los Angeles, California. Originally a health writer, she has begun to branch out into writing about technology, which has been a passion of hers since she was young.