MuniFi Roundup

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Municipal Wi-Fi is dead says John Cox in a large review in Network World. At least in terms of the model whereby cities award an exclusive contract to a service provider and hopes to make money selling broadband to consumers.

But municipal Wi-Fi is also alive and well in a variety of other incarnations, including municipally owned networks deployed for specific purposes such as public safety and imaginative efforts that combine wireline and wireless technologies, says the article.

“It’s pretty clear that ‘free Wi-Fi’ was an unrealistic expectation,” says Stan Schatt, vice president and research director at ABI Research. “What’s happened is that the early business models didn’t work. They weren’t realistic.”

[Pay no attention to the fact that I’m posting this very story using Portland MetroFi’s free service]

Here’s a recap:

Sascha Meinrath, research director, Wireless Future Program, at the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C. public policy group, argues that 2007 showed the failure of the free market approach to critical infrastructure. Government has a traditional role, he writes, as the builders and maintainers of critical infrastructure.

Personal Telco Project (PTP) in Portland, is building a network from the ground up, using volunteers, Linksys or similar Wi-Fi routers reflashed with the WiFiDog software, and shared DSL or fiber broadband connections. They unwired the Mississippi neighborhood in north Portland.

Like Meinrath, PTP prez Michael Weinberg sees a synergy between community efforts and municipal policy goals. “What I’d like to see Portland do is get on the viral side of this,” he says. “There are hundreds of thousands of broadband connections [in the city]. We could unwire Portland tomorrow if enough people got on board.”

Wired Magazine has mapped hundreds of municipal wireless projects on Google Maps. Most are smaller cities and counties, where bureaucracies are less onerous and costs are lower. Here’s a pdf version (224k).

EzWireless knows a thing or two about networking. They designed and built a mobile, secure, broadband and web-based network covering 700 square miles in Eastern Oregon five years ago. It enabled local fire & police departments in seven cities, parts of three counties and two states. It’s the largest WiFi system in the United States — and the first. That system works.

I talked to Fred Ziari who heads EZ Wireless, at the Innotech conference last week. He said networks need to solve a problem. More on that, later.

According to WiFi Planet, Tropos works with a number of different vendors to deploy Automatic Meter Reading in its municipal wireless systems, including SmartSynch, Aclara, Badger Meter, Silver Spring Networks, and others. Aclara did the Anderson and Corpus Christi deployments, and SmartSynch is working with Burbank, California’s Burbank Water and Power on an AMR Wi-Fi network that’s currently in the pilot stage, with a full deployment expected by the end of the year.

DailyWireless has more than 650 related Municipal Wireless stories including; Muni-Fi’s Got Trouble, Who the MuniFi MAN?, Municipal WiFi: What Would You Do?, Wireless Silicon Valley: Would You Believe a Dozen Hotspots in San Carlos?, Free Grass Roots Wi-Fi: It Works in Portland, Starbucks Adds AT&T Wi-Fi, Earthlink Gets Out, MetroFi Vs Portland, Meraki Proposes Free SF Wi-Fi Network, OpenAirBoston Regroups; Becomes Open, Sacramento WiFi on Slow Track, Sacramento Approves WiFi, SoCal Wireless: Toast?, MuniFi: What Now?, MuniFi: Not Dead Yet, Earthlink Restructures, MuniFi Holds Breath, San Francisco WiFi Dead?, Earthlink Tweeks WiFi Business, New York’s 750 sq mile Cloud, San Francisco WiFi Dead?, Wireless Houston: Size Queen?, State-wide Wireless Broadband Access, Ten Cities Under Colorado Cloud, FiberNet for Calif Schools, Washington’s 1500mi Cloud, Sprint WiMAXing NYC, Connecting the Nation, WiFi Vs WiMAX in Windy City, New York’s 750 sq mile Cloud, Will “N” Rescue MuniFi?, Aeris + PacifiCorp: CDMA Meter Reading, M2Z: Free Internet Now!, Sprint’s WiMAX Cities, San Francisco: Now it’s the Antennas!, WiFi War in San Francisco, Houston + Earthlink to Build Huge MuniFi Network, El Paso Unwired + Most of California, Green Light for Philly WiFi Expansion, City Clouds Turn On, Minneapolis Goes Local, Digital City Winners, Anaheim Turns On, New Orleans Gets Earthlink Cloud, Portland Chooses MetroFi for 134 Mile Cloud, Milwaukee’s $20M Cloud, Dvorak: Muni WiFi Will Die, The World Largest WiFi Cloud, Rain on SF Cloud, Google WiFi SitRep, San Mateo: 1st Silicon Valley Cloud, Sacramento Approves WiFi, Cloud for Silicon Valley, Wireless Silicon Valley Proposals, Park City: Solar WiFi, Solar Powered Solstice, GoogleFi: Ads or Not?, Google WiFi Interview, Portland Chooses MetroFi for 134 Mile Cloud, SF WiFi: Bad Deal for Poor?, SF Cloud: It’s Google/Earthlink, Minneapolis Bridge Collapse & Emergency Communications and Philly Chooses Earthlink.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, April 21st, 2008 at 6:06 pm .

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