Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Municipal WiFi

There is a new white paper on my website looking at the prospects for rolling out WiFi across the towns and cities of the UK. It will be an uphill struggle for all concerned. Here is an excerpt from my conclusions.

“Outdoors public space WiFi is a difficult business in the short-term, with the classic problems of lack of capability (coverage, products and services, user devices); lack of effective demand (what’s it for?); and a too-high cost base (hard to cherry-pick coverage areas and market segments the way The Cloud, BT Openzone and T-Mobile, can, for example, do indoors).

While the addition of WiMAX to the portfolio can get coverage and costs in roughly the right place, a new supplier will face its own competitive problems as it forces the Mobile Operators to finally take it seriously.

Councils in the main will not return major, significant revenue streams any time soon. This is the stark evidence of 2006/7 across the world if one cares to take the experience seriously. Tailoring wider-scale coverage to the needs of specific early-adopter departments is probably the best tactic, as well as an acknowledgement that Councils repeatedly talk big (for PR purposes) and then fail to deliver their side of the bargain and drag their feet. “

The full paper is here.