A report commissioned by Dublin City Council says that a free metropolitan wi-fi network shouldn't be pursued because it would run foul of European Commission regulations on state aid.
"If we went the whole hog the Commission would probably shut it down," said Fine Gael councillor Naoise O'Muiri, a committee member, to this blog. "The telcos are powerful companies and would have resources to fight it, too."
But what about the examples that US cities such as Philadephia have set?
"Over there, it's much less regulated," said O'Muiri. "There's an obsession with market over here and that's definitely a factor."
The committee is relying heavily on a European Commission decision earlier this year concerning a plan by authorities in Prague to build and operate a citywide wi-fi network for schools and other public utilites.
While the Commission allowed the scheme to proceed, its rationale for doing so implied that any similar project which discommoded a private sector player could violate EU competition rules.
The report, which will be recommended by members of the Council's wi-fi committee, recommends pilot projects in three "disadvantaged" areas of Dublin instead. The areas are Ballymun, Ballyfermot and a small section area of Dublin 8 and Dublin 2 around the Liberties and Thomas Street area.
It is possible, too, that such wi-fi access may be limited to government services, such as motortax.ie. And the trials are mooted to last three years at a cost of between €600,000 and €1 million each.
Personally, I'm very disappointed in this outcome. Wi-fi services in Dublin are few and far between and are very costly. I don't fully accept that Brussels is the problem: there are so few wi-fi operations in Dublin that it should be possible to come to some sort of compensation programme, even giving operators a small piece of the (much larger) city-wide revenue pie.
It could be argued that newer HSDPA services, with speeds of 3Mbs, is now a cheaper solution. But this is no use to business travellers or visitors from abroad, as they require annual contracts from mobile operators.
Councillors are likely to trumpet this as a triumph in the fight against the digital divide. But that's not what this should have been about.