Bell Canada seems somewhat clueful when it comes to data networking in general (it has worked with the research data networks in Canada for years), but it remains to be seen if that translates to being clueful enough for this type of Wi-Fi network.This is a belated commentary on\u00a0a short Fortune magazine article from January\u00a0about a Bell Canada technology trial of turning old pay phones into Wi-Fi access points. Definitely, a "duh" moment. Boy does that idea make sense. Well, maybe it makes sense, but it sure should.The idea is to swap out those mostly-idle-because-everyone-has-a-cell-phone public pay phones for Wi-Fi access points and give folks loitering nearby a chance to get online. So far, the Bell Canada trial is offering free Internet access through the converted pay phones, but I expect that will not last. Bell Canada is a phone company after all, and someone has to pay for the swap.This idea has almost everything going for it. (I wonder how many patent applications already have been filed on this idea.) Bell Canada has the locations and permission to use them for communications. Pay phones are in all the best places (and quite a few of the worst). The locations have phone lines that can be used to support DSL for reasonable-speed Internet access. You can even do DSL link sharing and keep the phone (to support people who forget to charge their cell phones). Some of them already will have power.Bell Canada's\u00a0Web page on the trial shows a quite-neat-looking access point called a "hot spot box" that is protected by a transparent plastic shield. I cannot tell from the picture how big the thing is, but it looks like it might resist the attentions of vandals - up to a point.About the only thing wrong with the idea is that the phones belong to a telephone company. Bell Canada seems somewhat clueful when it comes to data networking in general (it has worked with the research data networks in Canada for years), but it remains to be seen if that translates to being clueful enough for this type of network. Imagine, if you will, your local baby Bell (sheesh, those babies are getting big - and some of them are going broke in a big way) trying to install, price and run such a service.And what happens when people start getting mobile phones with Wi-Fi interfaces and voice-over-IP (VoIP) support? Or, when people start using VoIP stacks that are in most laptops? You can bet that the phone companies suddenly will realize that they are offering a service where a main use is telephone company bypass. Things could get a bit funky when that happens; maybe the carriers will try to pull a Panama and\u00a0attempt to block the VoIP applications.The basic idea should be a real good one. The instant, well almost instant, ability to deploy Wi-Fi to many hundreds of thousands of places, with most if not all the infrastructure existing. There is just this nagging worry about the clue density of the owners.Disclaimer: U.S. News & World Report that was just published implied good things about clue density at Harvard, but the above reflects my own - not the university's.