Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wi-fi Wi-fi Everywhere and a Drop to Drink

Paris, from next month, will be the first 'digital city' in Europe with the establishment by the municipality of wi-fi access points at 262 locations across the city, divided evenly between municipal buildings such as public libraries and parks and gardens (with the exception of the Tuileries and the Luxembourg gardens, which do not come under the city's auspices). The points are accessible during opening hours, though Parvis de Hôtel de Ville (in front of the City Hall) and the Champs de Mars (in front of the Eiffel Tower) will have 24-hour access for those foolhardy enough to carry their laptops about in the early hours of the morning.

The initiative will cost €2.9 million to implement, with an annual running cost of €540,000, which media-savvy Mayor Bertrand Delanoë will no doubt fund quite easily from advertising. Paris is already endowed with a large number of bars and cafés offering excellent free wi-fi access for the price of a coffee. From now on it will be possible to be online almost ad infinitum. Which is a bit bothersome for me, considering how much time I tend to waste on the Internet; when I need to get some writing done I usually decamp to a public place where the temptation of clicking on my web browser is not a potential distraction. Now there may be few such places left. Still, wi-fi users in Dublin will be envious at this indulging of Parisian surfers, especially considering the extortionate rates charged almost everywhere for wi-fi there. If it's any consolation, the Dublinesque weather that Paris has been subjected to recently - with rain every day for the past three weeks - will ensure that I won't be sitting on a park bench blogging too soon.