St. Cloud's muni Wi-Fi cloud is only partly "cloudy"

 For fans of municipal Wi-Fi, news of ongoing technical problems in 28,000-population St. Cloud, Florida's new Cyber Spot free Wi-Fi system can't be taken as encouraging.

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For fans of municipal Wi-Fi, news of ongoing technical problems in 28,000-population St. Cloud, Florida's new Cyber Spot free Wi-Fi system can't be taken as encouraging.

Some $2.6 million has been spent on the project, which is expected to pay back build-out costs via enabling city workers to save on cell phone costs and encouraging them to work from the road via Wi-Fi-enabled wireless laptops.

But as to the 3,500 or so residents who have signed up, there have been problems.

Retired New York City transit worker and current St. Cloud resident Joe Lusardi tells the AP a tale of woe, involving a laptop that would only work out of doors, but with a connection that was slow and unreliable.

And as to Lusardi's destkop PC, don't even go there. The Wi-Fi signal doesn't.

Wi-Fi Networking News' Glenn Fleishman - widely considered a top source on everything Wi-Fi, isn't exactly encouraged by the problems St. Cloud is having.

"It's very large and it's very ambitious, so they're going to hit some of these problems before some of the marketing and technology is out there," Glenn tells the AP. "Products have to catch up to this new market."

If Glenn is correct, the glitches can act as a viral force multiplier. People who are having problems with technology tell their friends and colleagues. And they spread the word, and so on and so on.

I've been covering tech for a long time. If there's one principle I've noticed, it is that upbeat marketing is no match for word of downbeat word of mouth. Sometimes, first impressions take years to undo.

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