The New York Times writes about the paucity of use in what is arguably the largest urban area served by seamless Wi-Fi: The 2.6m residents of Taipei, Taiwan, are covered by 4,100 access points which reach 90 percent of the population. Despite original estimates of 250,000 subscribers by year's end, only 40,000 have signed up since the network switched from free trial to fee-based. Q-Ware, which created the network known as WiFly, has lowered its estimate to 200,000 subscribers, partly because key applications and hardware wasn't ready on time for network deployment.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Taipei and comparable U.S. metropolises, only mentioned in passing in this article, is that cell data services are substantially better and cheaper than in the U.S. Where the majority of Philadelphia residents have dial-up service and almost certainly little or no cell data access, Taipei residents might have wired Internet service and advanced cell phones.
Reporter Ken Belson points out that the network has municipal uses, such as remote traffic ticket submission by police officers. And Q-Ware is developing applications, like P-Walker, which will work with Sony PSP game machines, and a cheap per-minute phone service that uses an expensive handset.
The network cost $30m, and reaches throughout the subway system, which is an impressive achievement, and will ultimately make the network more widely used when the telephone service and game service are offered.
Update: The network itself works well, JiWire reports. The company spot-checked the network and found it met the grade.