It seems like these days every city feels the need to explore muni-WiFi. It's a hot political topic. As we've said repeatedly in the past, most of the efforts to stop muni-WiFi are coming from incumbent telcos (or, rather, incumbent-paid-for think tanks) with lots of misleading statements. However, that doesn't mean that muni-WiFi is absolutely a good thing in all situations. In many cases, it's probably unnecessary, and it still seems questionable to make use of WiFi in this manner, as it's not well designed for wide-area coverage. Yet, the latest to start exploring the idea of muni-WiFi is New York City. The arguments for universal access to broadband make sense, but I was just in Manhattan, and almost everywhere I went the problem wasn't too little WiFi, but too much. Where I was staying, I could spot nearly 30 access points. The problem there isn't that we need muni-WiFi, it's that all that WiFi causes plenty of interference and makes it nearly impossible for anyone to get on any of the access points. Muni-broadband can make sense in places where people aren't being offered service and can clearly use it. It's likely that there are parts of the city that don't have quite as much WiFi as the places I looked. It can make sense for the government to offer up real estate for access points or fiber to help provide broadband service -- but there needs to be a clear reason for them to do so. At the same time, they should make sure that the technology they decide to use really makes sense for the job it's being given.
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