The myth of ubiquitous Wi-fi

One thing about carrying around a wi-fi enabled phone is that, effectively, one always has a sophisticated wi-fi locator. It puts to the reality test the theory of “wi-fi everywhere” that we always see tossed around as though it is a given.

Let me tell you right now. It’s a joke. The chance of stumbling upon a usable wi-fi access point at any random time is so close to zero that one could not rely on it any more than one would rely on there being a free ice-cream stand nearby any random location.

I realize that if one lives in one of the specific cities where open free wi-fi has been deployed, then there would obviously be a decent chanceof finding a conection (when outside). However, I’m talking about my real world travels, day in and day out: the places I really go. And I’m in the San Francisco Bay area, an area where one expects technology and where there are a lot of tech.- equipped and tech.-savvy users.

What’s worse, I’m a member of several hotspot roaming services, including some of the biggest, and it’s still rare to find a hotspot I can use, by accident. Sure, I can seek out places I know have wi-fi (and even that can be hard), but the likelyhood that I’ll have a usable wi-fi hotspot when someone happens to ask, “hey, can you get a connection here?” is very VERY low.