May 27, 2003

economics and flower boxes

Nicholas Negroponte commented on his vision of the future of WiFi in a Boston Globe interview last week:

I think WiFi is exactly like the Internet, it's exactly the same. I just joined a technical advisory committee of the FCC [Federal Communications Commisssion], and we had our first meeting. And one person got up and said, `There's no economic model to sustain WiFi.' And I raised my hand and I said, `There's not only a precedent, there's a very strong economic model ... flower boxes.'

Think about it. If you put a flower box outside your house, you're first of all using your own money to buy the flowers. You're hanging it out there. You're doing it for your self-esteem, for the beauty of looking out the window and seeing the flowers, of decorating your house and making it look well. But it also, if everyone on the street puts nice flower boxes out, makes the street look nicer. It happens a little bit on Beacon Hill, it happens a lot in European cities.

Now the theory of flower boxes, if there is such a thing, could be taken to WiFi. I put in a WiFi system in my home for my own use, but it radiates out into the street. There's no incremental cost for me to let other people use it. There really isn't. ... If everybody does that, then the entire street has broadband. Every park bench has broadband, every convenience store has broadband, and so on.

So if you take that approach, it's very much like the Internet. You make these resources available by connecting them. The sum of the parts is just much, much greater. And I think that's what's going to happen for a major piece of wireless.

[note to myself: figure out how to display block quotes using my MT templates and stylesheets]

Posted by EGP at May 27, 2003 5:40 PM

Did it.

Posted by: EGP at June 18, 2003 7:48 AM