The Least Cool-Sounding Muni Wireless Applications Are The Most Valuable Ones

from the boring-but-useful dept

With all the interest in municipal wireless networks, there's been a lot of hype suggesting the networks that offer ubiquitous coverage could supplant fixed broadband and even cellular networks, accompanied by a lot of fuss that local governments have no business competing with these companies. However, both takes on the issue are inaccurate since the networks are a long way from being viable replacements for existing fixed or mobile networks, while in most cases, municipalities aren't acting as an ISP. Either way, they focus the attention on the public-access aspect of muni wireless, often ignoring the other benefits the networks can provide to local governments and their citizens. We've believed for some time that the real benefits of muni wireless could come from public service applications like remote meter-reading, security or public safety communications, with public internet access an added benefit on top. Now, a muni wireless consultant agrees, saying that public internet access will be the weakest financial aspect of muni networks, with mobile workforce applications showing the best return on investment in 2007. Despite studies and statistics from companies putting up muni networks saying public access is very popular, any sort of business model for it remains largely unproven (as do some of the networks themselves). While politicians look to score some PR points by talking about how they want to blanket their constituents with low-cost internet access, the real benefits of municipal wireless will come from far less sexy applications.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    110100100, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 10:26pm

    muni wireless sucks

    Muni wireless is a huge waste of taxpayer money. If you want internet, get a damn job. If you don't want a job, goto the library... The government has never been well-known for their efficiency and I doubt that their ability to implement internet will improve that image. Leave internet service providing up to the Internet Service Providers. Government - go do some government stuff, like lower my taxes.

     

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  2.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 10:38pm

    Re: muni wireless sucks

    Muni wireless is a huge waste of taxpayer money.

    Many of the major muni-wireless offerings aren't funded by taxpayer dollars, but by the private companies that operate them. The only thing really muni about them is that the gov't offers the right of way access for the wireless access points and requires certain amounts of coverage.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    who cares, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 11:14pm

    blank

    @110100100

    Actually.. it doesn't need to be highbandwidth low latency access.
    Common people who simply cant afford to pay due to low budget can still benefit greatly from public access to a vast network of information and I personally don't think it would cost that much to implement.
    Education wise it would be invaluable, to the common online porn freak they can't stand low bandwidth, to the common online gamer they can't stand high latency.
    So there may be a chance that it could work out well if the government dumbs down the network enough to point where the only the less fortunate people would dare use it.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Not So Mindeless American, Jan 24th, 2007 @ 1:15am

    Nothing really...

    Just wondering what misanthropic humanist will have to say about this.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Pete, Jan 24th, 2007 @ 11:08am

    umm.

    First off. READ THE ARTICLES before posting. Muni-Networks are not free! They are a government built network that is open for PRIVATE business. You still have to sign up for the isp that is running on them.

    Sounds like a good idea.
    1. Build network. (Yes, with taxpayer money. Keep your shorts on.)
    2. Allow private companies to lease network bandwidth.(Wow making money back already.)
    3. Collect local taxes. (Cool. A brand new tax revenue source.)

    Seems to me like it would be a good boost for the local tech economy. The cost of starting an isp on the network would be minimal as compared to building your own infrastructure. This brings access to this market down from the eletist giant isp's and would encourage competition. So if comcast wanted to move in to the neiborhood the would have to compete with the locals. Not something they have had to do before.

    So in short. quit whining about "wasting the taxpayers money". There are bigger wastes out there. Like polititions voting themselves pay raises.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    110100100, Jan 24th, 2007 @ 5:15pm

    muni wireless sucks

    @who cares - it does have to be high speed low latency or people bitch and need to improve it. In St. Paul, the current budget is already hovering around the $300 million mark. $300 MILLION! (That is over $2,000 per household, BTW) because of this very point. Also, why build it if it won't even benefit most people (gamers, porn freaks, pirates and the like...)?

    @Pete - one waste of $$$ does not justify another. We should eliminate both wastes, of course.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    jmchugh, Feb 1st, 2007 @ 1:03pm

    muni wireless

    In figuring cost/benefit of muni wifi, don't just use household numbers. Small businesses stand to benefit, especially where cabletv broadband serves mainly residential areas, and DSL has yet to serve every address in a municipality. Wifi fixes a marketplace failure where cable and telco can drag their feet, or condition service on multi-year contracts/plant construction expense.

    Would you like your first responder (fire or police) to be able to download a map/floor-plan of the building they are called to for help? While current cell phone type data connections are currently used at less than broadband speeds, muni wifi improves significantly on this and other public safety/public service applications.

    One last item...muni wifi presents itself because the private sector hasn't filled the need.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Laz Sanchez, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 9:38am

    MuniWireless

    We do not ask the municipality for a dollar on the "WiFi" side. We offer it to the tax payers for FREE and FEE, and where we do make "tax-dollars" is on the Public safety Homeland Security side.

    Some of you sound pretty savy, and others sound like no-so-savy little complainers and whiners.

    LS

    God Bless America and the Freedom of Opinion! ;)

     

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