The plan to have a WiFi bubble over the City of Houston has been radically altered. Unfortunately, we have seen this play out in other cities that were encouraged to embark in these initiatives by companies who were either underfunded or lacked the capacity to deliver on contract terms. In this case, the $3.5 million settlement the city received from Earthlink is now being directed to provide wireless accessibility to specific "hot-spots". These include some non-profits, community centers, and schools. Password accessibility will be required. Essentially, the only way to access the system is to be enrolled in a program at the specific site. Commendably, the "hot-spots" are located in the lower socio-economic areas of the city. The new initiative provides for a "Wireless Empowerment Access Network", or WECAN. This will be deployed in 25 super-neighborhoods. There is no doubt that this initiative, even though limited, will have a dramatic impact on the lives of many of the residents in these neighborhoods.
Of course, the ideal would have been to have the initial plan come to fruition. There is no doubt, in this wireless information age, that access to the Internet is critical to fostering a growing economy.