Wired News analyzes Joltage's potential: Paul Boutin examines the nature of Joltage's viral networking system, and finds some skepticism about roll-out. Part of what's driving Joltage, SOHO Wireless, and Sputnik is their reliance on a willingness on the part of their potential customers to have their eyes go all blurry when they read the usage restrictions on their DSL and cable accounts.
A good "for instance": my office has both SDSL (1.1 Mbps) and ADSL (1.5 down, 128K up) to handle our servers and our local users. The SDSL runs about $300/month for 24x7 support, 32 IP addresses, and unlimited bandwidth. We often average 300 kbps during the day. Our ADSL is $70 per month, single static IP, no bandwidth cap, but consumer-grade service. SDSL: we can use our bandwidth in practically any manner; ADSL: personal/local use only. Unless Joltage et al. can offer a real revenue picture for their affiliates, people won't be upgrading.
The flip side of this is that ISPs would have to monitor network usage and see sustained bandwidth. The likelihood with hot spots is that usage is rarely, if ever, saturated. More likely, people are checking email, downloading Web pages, transferring (briefly) large files. But it's less likely that every day for eight hours, people will fill your pipe. If they do, you then have a revenue reason (with Joltage at least) to increase your pipeline to serve your audience.
Of course, because you're hanging your access on the star of anything company which can, most likely, change their arrangement with you with some notice. If you start to make real money, it's possible any company would cap fees, rejigger their agreements, or otherwise try to make things more advantageous for themselves once you're captive.
The competition in this field already, though, may ensure that any hot spot location with sufficient users would have enough revenue potential that the operator would run multiple access points (to hop on more than one network affiliate relationship).
Even of more concern: if you operate a Joltage et al. hot spot in a dense area that turns out to be successful, there's no barrier to stop a neighbor from adding a node and diluting your income. McDonald's has succeeded in building an infinite number of stores in part because of how it offers geographical territories to ensure franchises don't poach. Of course, they've been sued for treading on this principle as well in setting up company-owned outlets.
Now Joltage wouldn't run any of its access points in popular areas, would it? Almost certainly not as it would engender too much resentment. But, then, hereUare's investors also started up WiFi Metro, which competes against potential partners.