In response to a post on Decentralisation by Kevin Werbach, Rafe Needleman has an interesting comment on WiFi:
My big question regarding WiFi access is, who will bill for it? Ultimately i don’t think end-users will have multiple small WISP accounts. I think the cellcos and telcos are in the best position to extend their billing relationships with their customers.
Which leads to the question: What will they be billing for? Their own hotspots? Boingo’s? The one in my house? I don’t know.
Is it possible to meld the two worlds — the chaotic and wonderful decentralized WiFi infrastructure + the convenient telephone bill?
In much of what we do, we under-estimate the importance of billing, and the implicit relationship that the biller has with the billee. This will become especially importance in the context of our plan to make Emergic as a “tech utility”, which implies that we need to bill at regular intervals of time. Collecting money on a regular basis is a challenge. What if customers don’t pay on time? What does the cost of collection become? Will customers ask for credit? What can we do to make customers pay on time, or even in advance?