"San Francisco picks Google, Earthlink for Wi-Fi plan"

So I'm browsing some E-pubs and it's a hard headline to miss, "San Francisco picks Google, Earthlink for Wi-Fi plan". The gratifyingly gracious gargantuan Google gains glory yet again.

Many cities are thinking about an organized Wi-Fi rollout, and for good reason. It's a great way to allow more people to get online, for less money, and with a far shorter delay between the time they give the green light to the provider, and the time that users can actually get online. I'm not sure, but the whole thing about not having to dig up streets and lay cable might have something to do with it.

Personally I have some mixed feelings on the issue. While I love the idea of being able to wirelessly connect just about anywhere, especially for free, the security and privacy implications of city-wide Wi-Fi are horrendous. I wonder what the big G is planning to do to keep things locked down? Is it even possible to keep that kind of network "secure"

My bet is that this isn't going to be something they're going to concern themselves with. They're going to rely on the users to tend to their own security. Don't want your password sniffed? Use an SSL connection, or don't log into your secure sites over free Wi-Fi.

I suppose that's not too much to ask, really, since they're "giving away" the service (minus any data they can mine from your connection to place the appropriate adds in front of you at all times). This will, however, quickly bring a glaring issue to the forefront for many companies that either currently offer, or would like to provide remote access for their users; how do they keep things clean?

Will more users want to log in remotely, now that they can do it from not only their favorite coffee shop, which has proven to be the defacto Wi-Fi squatting location of choice, but also from their taxi, back yard, poolside, or hair-salon. Will more and more companies need VPNs to allow these users in and enforce security policies? Will concerns of bandwidth limitation be done away with for users who previously couldn't receive or couldn't afford BroadBand?

I guess we'll have to wait and see. ;)

 

#Colin