The past couple months have seen a rash of news reports about failed Municipal Wi-Fi networks. Or at least attempts to build them. Philadelphia, San Francisco and smaller communities found the cost and the return on investment hard to figure out. And wi-fi providers have not lived up to their own hype.

But according to this article, it’s a temporary setback. Communities are taking a step back and looking at more realistic models. But the drive is still there. This is a common pattern in technology. Some people can’t wait for the tortoise approach and dash ahead, not looking at all the potential pitfalls. I have to admit to being one of the hares sometimes. However, it’s clear that the goal, ubiquitous access to the network is a good one and, I think, inevitable. Wi-Fi enabled phones like the iPhone, will help drive the build out of networks in the near term. But ultimately, we will all be immersed in the network like the air we breath.

Some of the early Wi-Fi networks that have succeeded witll continue to build on that success and be that much furhter ahead as new systems and models roll out. Those that have taken the slower approach (the City of Eureka for example) can benefit from what the pioneers have learned and may be able to catch up. to some degree. It’s going to happen, folks. It’s just a matter of when and how.