Wifi: The post in which I preemptively diss Pershing Square WIFI

Friday, October 15, 2004, at 06:00PM

By Eric Richardson

So the CRA awarded the Pershing Square wifi contract a little over a week ago. I didn't know until I saw this little Downtown News blurb. From the DN:

City officials last week selected Verge Wireless Networks to provide wireless Internet - or Wi-Fi - access at Pershing Square. The Baton Rouge-based company was hired for $25,000 by the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Recreation and Parks Department, which manages the block-long park bounded by Fifth, Sixth, Olive and Hill streets. The Wi-Fi service will be free during the day, with additional subscriber services available at a cost in evening hours.

Oh, great, pseudo-wifi. It's "free" but your "free" service is "limited." What does limited mean?

Allows you to surf web sites on the Verge Wireless Hotzone, surf web sites on the Internet, and check e-mail using the Hotzone AirMail system or your own e-mail program. Requires a user name and password to login. Restrictions include: 128K bandwidth, no VPN access allowed, no MP3 downloading or high bandwidth video.

That's the description for their FreeConnect service, which I assume is what will be offered during the day in the square. Now, the during the day part is kind of odd. I don't know if they really scouted out the area before they decided to throw that into the contract. Pershing Square is closed at sunset (I think sunset... at night, though).

But aside from that, I read the limitations on the free service to mean that they're going to be restricting your outgoing ports, probably to just 80 (http), 443 (https), 25 (smtp), 110 (pop3), and 143 (imap). If they aren't the only real limit they can have is the bandwidth (which is completely legit... I don't mind people doing that). Also it would appear they're filtering web content (to a small extent... they claim not to be able to restrict access to specific sites, etc) to be able to block mp3 downloads and video.

All this to say... I won't be going to Pershing Square to use the wifi any time soon (err... assuming this is January and test service is there). I told you just a few weeks ago how the library's wifi service was worthless. This appears to be little better. I just hope they don't suck the Biltmore into their web of restrictiveness and charging.