Utility Stalling Muni WiFi, But It's Not A Telco

from the be-a-shame-if-these-packets-were-to-get-dropped dept

We’ve seen plenty of cases before where incumbent utilities have done their best to stymie municipal broadband projects (unless they can profit from it, of course). Typically, it’s a telco or cable company trying to put up the obstacles, but in southern California, it’s the electric company. As Glenn Fleishman notes, just because a municipality might control an area’s utility poles, it may not control who supplies power to them — and in several cities around Los Angeles, that’s Southern California Edison Co., which says it needs to “understand the technology better” before it starts providing the power to WiFi access points on utility poles. What’s so difficult to understand about a piece of equipment that draws a consistent amount of power on par with a reading lamp? In one city, where a year of discussions have been fruitless, the company told officials they might be able to come to some sort of agreement if they paid rates on par with what cellular carriers pay to hang their antennas on utility poles, a quite reasonable $2,000 a month, compared to the $36 per year one WiFi provider cites as the average rate it pays. Other than the obvious greed, it’s hard to figure out exactly why the company could be stalling: indifference, incompetence or perhaps some telco-style roadblocking in an attempt to boost some future broadband over power line offering?

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Comments on “Utility Stalling Muni WiFi, But It's Not A Telco”

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Lucas (user link) says:

Why so many WiFi delays?

This reminded me of something I read about Toronto deciding to delay their WiFi. As a Toronto resident, I was really excited about cheap, ubiquitous WiFi… but there always seems to be a reason to delay.

Jon Arnold’s blog points out that in Toronto, you need a cell phone to get free WiFi. Huh? I don’t get it. But man, it sure seems muni WiFi is always more complicated than expected.

M.S. says:

Its hard for you to understand why they are stalling because you are a computer guy.

This boils down to a simple real estate transaction. Well capitalized companies or institutions are willing to wait until a market rate is established for the space being bought or leased rather than making a “bad” deal.

I am all for cheap Wi-Fi but I am not sure that the market has really been established at this point.

Scott (profile) says:

Find another spot!

No, Really…I owned a rather successful WISP in Arizona, and we just started putting up our own towers…they cost? about US $1100 per tower, that included radios. We attempted to work with Cellphone companies, and even some “HOT” towers that ran radioi stations, but in the end, we just put up our own! We later sold out to same cellphone company for good $$$ Fuck em’!!

Anonymous Coward says:

good for you, Scott!

If someone wanted to put up an area light, around here the utility would meter it for a period of time to establish how much electrity it consumes, charge a nominal fee for polespace and electricty, and you’re done. One area light.

I’m fortunate to live in an area where the engineers have some sway, and not just the suits.

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