Friday, January 06, 2012

Some Details on the Mission WiFi Project

I've been working on a project to get WiFi hotspots throughout the city. The ultimate goal is to have access to the Internet from anywhere in town. The challenge is coming up with some kind of incentive to get businesses to participate by donating their bandwidth. After all, they pay good money for it. 

I'm thinking of approaching this from two different angles. For businesses, there is a marketing/advertising angle. For the consumer, we'll need to go along a Wireless ISP approach, with distribution points back to the consumer. 

I'm still figuring out the best approach to ensure that we have enough bandwidth for everybody. In the meantime, little islands of WiFi throughout town, in an advertising pool is the best idea I could dream up. 

This means knocking on doors and offering to set up hotspots with 1 Mb connections for visitors; it's best not to abuse the business participant. 

Advertising Co-op?

By hosting a hotspot, the business can have their website and facebook page added to the splash page rotation. This isn't too exciting with one or two hotspots; but, imagine that I got around to 50 hotspots. What if each hotspot has 3 or 4 users per day (on the low end)? That means 150 to 200 page impressions per day to cross-promote all the participant websites. Some locations will have more users, meaning that the number could be greater. If you have a website and it's not seeing the traffic you think it should, then showing it to wifi users throughout town is good exposure. It is a source of Facebook likes that may never have happened. 

If there are 100 businesses with hotspots, that's 400 impressions or more distributed per day. 

On the technical end, imagine 100 businesses donating 1 Mb of bandwidth. Concurrently, that's 100 Mb of Internet flowing. What would that cost on a monthly basis? In this case, picking up bandwidth spare change adds up. 

For the moment, that's a bit ambitious. We only have 3 hotspots active. But, it's not too ambitious; there are well over 1000 businesses in Mission, Texas (an understatement). 

In the long-term, the trick will be to find a way to aggregate that bandwidth and redistribute it to low-income areas of town. You'd be willing to endure a few ads in exchange for free Internet, right? 

But, that may be far down the road. In the meantime, I need to get over my shyness to go knock on some doors. 

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