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Networking Wireless Networking Hardware

Free Wi-Fi For the Residents of Venice, Italy 153

pmontra writes "The City of Venice, Italy, started to offer free Wi-Fi to residents (Google translation from the Italian source) on July 3 2009. Tourists and other visitors will pay 5 Euros a day for the service starting from September. The hot spots are connected to a ten thousand kilometer (6,250 mile) fiber optic LAN the City started deploying in the '90s. The first day of free Internet access has been celebrated with a digital treasure hunt in the channels of the lagoon city."
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Free Wi-Fi For the Residents of Venice, Italy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 05, 2009 @02:34AM (#28584793)

    ...when there is talk about "free" internet there are cheers by the crowds and when there are talk about free health care the opionons are much more polarized.

    Essentially it's the same thing, government and local authorities providing a "free" service. Of course it's not free, every citizen pays his share with taxes.

    FYI I'm totally positive the government arranging for the basic needs of the public, such as health care, eduction, roads, but have not yet taking a stance in the internet.

    Anyway, although i dont know much about italian internet i'm sure that if this becomes common practice it will affect companies that try to sell internet for living.

  • Re:How long ... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 05, 2009 @03:13AM (#28584937)

    It already is.

    I'm currently posting from a train without a WLAN. I'm using Mokkula, a wireless modem the size of an USB stick. It costs me 20 euros a month and the speed is 2 mb/s.

    There are cheaper models of it with lower speeds too and the area where this works is countrywide. (Granted, Finland is a country that is as big as a single state of USA)

  • Re:Sounds nice (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 05, 2009 @03:21AM (#28584943)

    But what about privacy? Internet-cafe's are required to make a copy of your passport when you're using their internet.

    Where is that? Here in Finland they don't and I've never heard that it would have proved to be a problem (IE: Would have result in excessive illegal use or the right).

    The bars here have WLANs that are one of the three: Completely open, have passwords written on a blackboard on the wall or have passwords that you can ask from the staff (usually for free as long as you buy something).

    As for internet cafes, not only do they require nothing like that here but I've traveled quite a lot especially in southern Europe and never been even asked my first name in those places.

  • Radical proposal?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @03:26AM (#28584965) Homepage

    I've read a fair number of these 'City-X provides free internet' stories, and as far as I can tell they all have something in common... they all require everyone to to register their identity with the government and log on with a username-password.

    To my ears, thats like the government setting up a free water fountain in a park and requiring people to swipe a drivers license or other ID in order to unlock the water. In fact it sounds to me like they are SPENDING who-knows-how-much EXTRA money to buy and maintain the ID scanner and weld it to the water fountain.

    Is it jut me, or are there others out there thinking that free public water fountains (and free public public access WiFi points) should simply be open?


  • Re:Sounds nice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by THEbwana ( 42694 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @03:48AM (#28585019)

    Where is that?

    In Italy. See:
    for more info.

  • Use 3G instead (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quenda ( 644621 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @04:16AM (#28585097)

    At 5 euro/day ?! Screw that.

    I'll take my 3G phone, which costs 50c/MB roaming on '3' in italy. Good enough for email, and looking up tourist info.
    I expect you can get a prepaid SIM in Italy that will cover the whole country for a lot less that 5 euro/day.
    And if you're in Venice, there are better things to do than reading slashdot all day in some wanky tourist cafe on Piazza San Marco. God, I hope it doesn't have a Starbucks now.

  • Re:Use 3G instead (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pmontra ( 738736 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @04:58AM (#28585223) Homepage

    I'll take my 3G phone, which costs 50c/MB roaming on '3' in italy. Good enough for email, and looking up tourist info.

    I agree but there might be some reasons that can make the Wi-Fi service attractive to some people. One is that for your 3G contract to be competitive you have stay under a 10 MB cap. That won't let you upload your vacation pictures or download large attachments for business. Nothing that matters to you, probably, but it could matter to somebody else. Wi-Fi could also be an easier connection to setup: tourists will probably be able to register online from their home before leaving for Italy (Venice residents are registering online for the service now). That's seems a better option than looking for the right telephone shop in a foreign country and trying to communicate with personnel that maybe don't speak their language too well.

    God, I hope it doesn't have a Starbucks now.

    There are no Starbucks in Italy and probably there will never be. Starbucks' idea of coffee is too different from the average Italian's idea of coffee, an espresso quickly brewed and quickly consumed at the bar. Ironically, the original Starbucks was selling coffee beans and equipment and started selling coffee drinks only after a journey to Italy of its marketing manager in 1982.

  • by Nuffsaid ( 855987 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:17AM (#28585463)

    As someone who actually lives in Venice, I can tell you that you are right about the tourist traps, but they are easily avoided if you look around instead of going windows shopping. The made-in-China stuff you can buy is far from romantic, but the sheer structure of the city, with its two entangled mobility networks (one for walkers, one for boats) still amazes me after 10 years living here. Now we have three entangled networks...
    Yesterday I had dinner with an old pal whose job in the last months has been installing the access points and congratulated him. He confirmed the amazing level of interest even among the elder population. Today, lots of people I know are checking signal strength in every hidden corner. Looks like the municipality (and my friend) did a great job, as the coverage seems rather complete.
    BTW, Venice is not a theme park. People still live and work here, enjoying a lifestyle like no other, mainly due to the absense of cars. I won't tell you "come visit us", but I can confirm you don't need a pretext like free connectivity.

  • Re:Use 3G instead (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 05, 2009 @07:29AM (#28585661)

    There are no Starbucks in Italy and probably there will never be. Starbucks' idea of coffee is too different from the average Italian's idea of coffee, an espresso quickly brewed and quickly consumed at the bar.

    The Portuguese idea of coffee is pretty much like the Italian's. "Coffee" here is synonymous with espresso, and nobody would dare serve you anything different. You can find a large espresso machine in virtually every place that serves food or drinks. You can even usually find them in beach bars and small food stands.

    People used to say exactly what you said, that Starbucks would never work in here and that it probably would never come to Portugal as it would be a lousy market for the types of drinks that they serve. And still, there are now 3 Starbucks stores in Lisbon. They're probably just feeling the terrain first given the locations they have chosen. One store stands in one of the most touristy areas of Lisbon, so even if the Portuguese don't like it, they can sell their coffee to other Europeans and Americans. The other 2 were set up at large shopping malls. They're basically empty during the week, but during weekends they fill up mostly with teens.

    I still believe that the future is not so bright for Starbucks in here. Their prices are high like in the rest of the world, and this is the country where people have good espresso available practically everywhere for 60 euro cents or even less.

  • Hume's principle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @11:02AM (#28586377)
    Faced with a choice between the apparently miraculous (your friend is able to detect minute levels of RF) and the alternative (you know whether it is off or on and you give subtle visual clues) I will go for the latter every single time.

    In Glastonbury, UK, people complained of headaches caused by a town center wireless station, but amazingly none of them were affected by their mobile phones. On the other hand, the leader of the complainers seems to be in the business of selling magic crystals that protect you from RF radiation. Strangely, where I live, in a different part of Somerset with a lot more industry and wireless networks all over the place, nobody seems to suffer.

Simulations are like miniskirts, they show a lot and hide the essentials. -- Hubert Kirrman