WiFi: FreedomNet (Citywide WiFi Trial)

Having had some problems using the Four Friends network this morning, I decided to have a go with one of the areas being used to trial the service of a possible Grand Rapids Citywide WiFi vendor. Since I was close to the 60 Monroe Centre location for FreedomNet’s service that was my first port of call.

The range was good (I discovered I could actually detect the network from outside Four Friends), but unfortunately I wasn’t able to use the service. My laptop picked up the network and (after quite a while) directed me to the FreedomNet homepage to log in, but on trying to log in I was presented with the message:

Your MAC address is undefined. Problem with the gateway?

Since the problem persisted for several minutes, I gave up. Hopefully future attempts will be more successful.

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  1. One thing i noticed on the FreedomNet system is that I have to enter my credit card information in order to take advantage of this “Free” test. Why should I enter payment information, which they state will be used for future contact with me, when I have no desire to pay for this service? How do I know they are a reputable company and won’t start charging me without notice?

    If the service is free, it should be FREE, not a masked attempt to get my information.

  2. Definitely. If you could also post this comment at http://grwifi.net/location/FreedomNet+-+Monroe+Center that’d be great — I’m hoping to submit a compilation of any comments posted there to the group reviewing the outcomes of the trial.

    It may well be that FreedomNet’s system is set up that way to demonstrate how the system would work if they’re given the general contract and/or to save them recoding for the trial period, but to have to enter credit card details for a free service is always disconcerting.

  3. Re: Use of credit card required: Before the inital startup of the Grand Rapids trial on June 1st FreedomNet required a credit card to signup in order to identify who was using our system prior to the Grand Rapids Trial. As of June 1st and for the entire length of the Grand Rapids City Demonstration time period FreedomNet no longer requires any form of signup. The network is 100% open at this time and has shown over 100 free trials in the month of June already. We look forward to continually working with the City of Grand Rapids and its residents/visitors for the betterment of FreedomNet’s network and the ultimate goal of unwiring the entire City. Further questions can be directed to our technical support team at (616)459-2000.

    (from Michael Wolthuis – CTO FreedomNet)

  4. Interesting topic. I have tried the service downtown, and was really impressed with NorTel, but had trouble connecting with FreedomNet. Guess I will keep trying.

    BTW, I have been reading with interest the GRNow.com site, and I am impressed with the coverage of the GR WiFi test. A little digging showed that GRNow.com is apparently owned by FreedomNet Solutions, or at least receives it’s mail at the FreedomNet offices (60 Monroe Center, Suite 501, Grand Rapids, MI).

    Seems like a major conflict of interest when a “news” site has so much favorable coverage about one company that it is shacking up with (literally, in this case), and slams the other providers.

    How about some real, objective coverage?