Muniwifi: doomed by uneven competition
September 28th, 2007

Tim Wu offers an explanation for the failure of American municipal wifi. He argues that the movement was doomed from the start, when cities decided to outsource muniwifi, rather than installing it themselves. This led companies into competing for last mile coverage with local firms which already owned that market.

When municipal Wi-Fi became a private service, it fell into the same economic trap as the toilet robots. Private municipal wireless networks have to compete against competitors with better infrastructure who paid off their capital investments years ago.

Toilet robots, you ask? Read the article.

Wu also wins the award for Best WiFi Metaphor in 2007:

The result, as this summer has made clear, has been telecom’s Bay of Pigs—a project the government wanted to happen but left to underqualified private parties to deliver. Firms like Earthlink promised too much, and the cities have stood by and watched as the firms trying to build Wi-Fi systems have twisted and died on the beachhead.

Previously on this topic: August 2007 update, problems with regulations, slow growth in Toronto.

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