Is a Wi-Fi network in your future? It appears that Wi-Fi networks supported by online advertising will be springing up across the US. This is good news for the road warrior who needs instant access to the internet and email. There is even some talk that wi-fi may just provide high-speed access to those living in rural areas. But how will the average user benefit from this networking marvel? Read on.

“More than 300 cities have or plan to have Wi-Fi networks. But the business models and even the technology still are being ironed out.

Everyone wants a piece of the municipal Wi-Fii market–even though no one is entirely sure how this business will turn out.

Microsoft entered the market last week as a partner of MetroFi, a wireless Internet access provider, for a Wi-Fi network in Portland, Ore. The pitch is that residents can get free access in exchange for ads served up by Microsoft or pay for an ad-free version. Google is considering a similar model for a Wi-Fi network in San Francisco, where it’s partnering with EarthLink.

Microsoft plans to offer locally relevant MSN content and services, including weather, news, and local government services, as well as restaurant, nightlife, and movie listings. Like many city Wi-Fi efforts, this one starts small; the companies expect to have it available in Portland’s downtown by year’s end, but probably not across the city until 2008. The service will let users search for addresses or businesses and show those locations on a map. Advertisers will use Microsoft’s adCenter platform to reach Wi-Fi users.”

Complete story here.

[tags]wi-fi, network, businesses, map, location,service, search, advertisements, Microsoft, Google, Earthlink[/tags]