The town of Grand Haven, Mich. (pop. 12,000) has turned on a Wi-Fi service that reaches everywhere in the city. Residents can sign up for broadband service for $20 a month, care of local service provider Ottawa Wireless. It's a slow version of broadband Â– 256 kpbs downloads for the $20 service Â– but it's universally available, which isn't a bad thing. It's certainly a good for putting competitive pressure on the local cable company and telco.
A few other cities in the U.S. are doing the same thing, using Wi-Fi and repeaters that can send the short-range signals bouncing across a series of antennae. It's probably a short-term solution, until longer-range WiMax technology begins hitting markets in 2006.
My business plan for San Francisco involves strapping wireless repeaters to pigeons' heads. We're guaranteed universal coverage.