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Philadelphia, PA
reply to marigolds

Re: WiFi was not right

said by marigolds:

Your article misses the mark on one point.
You approach with the assumption that muni wi-fi is to provide wi-fi to the residents. This is not the primary purpose of muni wi-fi. The primary purpose is to provide wi-fi to government services, especially mobile vehicles and in emergency scenarios. Cities do not turn to the likes of earthlink for these networks. They turn to established providers of vhf, microwave, and cellular technologies.

Well maybe somebody should clue the Philadelphia Police and Fire departments into this plan...because there is not ONE patrol car or piece of mobile fire equipment currently using anything on the mirage called Philly Wifi.

The "primary purpose" (using your words) of municipal wifi in Philly was the city controlling/administering the distribution of broadband as a new government-funded welfare entitlement. This is what the city already managed to do with the municipal gas and water utilities it has run into the ground. Somehow the natural gas and water utilities in Philly have been transformed into social services for the poor, funded by an ever-decreasing pool of people who actually pay their utility bills.

But what the dopey city broadband proponents didn't realize is that consumers have viable, market-driven alternatives to municipal wifi. So they aren't STUCK with an overpriced municipal wifi utility, like they are with natural gas and water in Philly.

Without a viable business model, municipal wifi projects nationwide will quickly evaporate.

Gainfully employed, finally
Saint Louis, MO

Philly Wifi was not a municipal wifi project though. It was some hybrid with a completely different purpose, as you pointed out.
Read Tom Carlini's article. He is talking about muni wifi in general as a network structure; and starting from the assumption that the primary purpose should be profitability. And then arguing that a profitable business model does not exist (which I think is true).
The problem is that the business model for successful muni fi is not about profitability but about cost savings. There are extremely successful municipal wifi, electric utilities, water utilities, etc. that operate on a service provision and cost savings model. In the case of wifi, they make the important distinction that they are not providing broadband services to the whole populace, but rather only to city services. This replaces the fortune that has to currently be spent on mobile broadband services, resulting in a huge cost savings.
Profitable? Not at all when the city is the only customer. Saves taxpayer money? Absolutely.
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