Municipal Wi-Fi

Artigo interessante sobre a situação dos projetos Wi-Fi em cidades americanas que passam por dificuladades como já mostramos em outros posts nesse Carnet. Vejam trechos do artigo : Municipal Wi-Fi, Once The Rage, Now Often The Scourge.


“Phone and cable companies have reason to cheer: Municipal Wi-Fi projects that would have undercut their broadband services are being aborted or shut down. The muni Wi-Fi projects aimed to provide free or cut-rate wireless Internet access. A year ago, cities rushed to announce Wi-Fi build-outs. Now they’re rushing to cancel, as costs proved higher — and demand lower — than expected.

On Wednesday, San Francisco officially scrapped its Wi-Fi plans. Chicago and Milwaukee recently shelved Wi-Fi projects. Other projects, such as Houston’s, are comatose. Philadelphia’s build-out, about half-done, has slowed to a crawl. Cincinnati’s is on hold. “A lot of people thought free Wi-Fi would hurt broadband growth,” said John Hodulik, a UBS analyst who follows AT&T (NYSE:T – News) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ – News). “But it now seems clear that it’s unlikely to have an effect.”


What happened to the grand plans for muni Wi-Fi in big cities? “The muni guys probably overestimated demand and underestimated the costs of building and maintaining a network,” Hodulik said. “Anybody building a new network will want to make sure they don’t make the same mistake.”


Vos says 415 cities and counties in the U.S. are building Wi-Fi networks or have sought bids. “Small and midsize cities are deploying Wi-Fi for their own uses, especially for public safety,” she said. Vos credits a new Wi-Fi network in Minneapolis with helping emergency staff after last month’s bridge collapse that claimed 13 lives. She says muni Wi-Fi services are still a good option for rural areas that lack broadband service from cable or phone companies.

But cities have learned the hard way that the goal of providing free or nearly free Internet access isn’t a valid reason to jump into Wi-Fi, says Craig Settles, an Oakland, Calif.-based consultant. “The utopian world of free wireless everywhere was just silly,” he said. For muni Wi-Fi projects to move forward, cities or counties will have to agree to stay on as anchor tenants, he says. That means they’ll be the primary users, either for public safety or other purposes.”