Telcos should re-examine muni-broadband

Telcos should re-examine muni-broadband
The New York Times has a story today about the pitfalls of the municipal WiFi market. It doesn't contain much new information for anyone who followed the death spiral of muni-WiFi, and is tracking the current re-fashioning of the muni-WiFi business model into a market opportunity that makes more sense. But, maybe it will help wake up anyone who still thinks muni WiFi is too dangerous a business for them. That includes many telcos.

New concepts for muni-WiFi and muni-broadband highlight the involvement of the municipal governments themselves as anchor tenants on the networks who are eager to explore how new broadband technology can change the way the operate. Having secured an anchor tenant that will provide ongoing revenue, network operators can make good on the original promise of muni-WiFi: To provide free or inexpensive public Internet access.

That doesn't mean WiFi blankets will cover these municipalities, but it does mean that residents in need might be able to go to a public library or community center and find free or affordable access. Creating service and speed tiers for users who want speedier access and value-added applications also can help network operators make more sense of the business for themselves.

Telcos like AT&T and Covad Communications are beginning to buy into new muni-WiFi concepts. Now, it's time for more service providers to take notice. For more read the story at The New York Times. - Dan

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