Not sure about other cities, but most places such as restaurants and the like are free.
Comcast is turning some neighborhoods in Chicago into hot spots, for a small fee.
Comcast turning Chicago homes into public WiFi hotspots - Chicago TribuneChicago may be the tipping point on the way to a national Wi-Fi network.
Chicago has a free broadband initiative. Possibly paid for by tax $$$. Other cities might follow, if some already haven't.
Municipal wireless network - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
You can never be safe from a government that can keep you completely safe from each other and the world. You must choose.
But from a societal point of view that favors the overall economy, the pay to play system would be a huge drag on the economy.
"If your opponent is of choleric temperament, seek to irritate him." - Sun Tzu
Just give everyone free dial-up. Little to no infrastructure startup costs.