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Summary:

The Municipal Wireless market just got more interesting. Sources close to MetroFi, a Sunnyvale, California-based start-up tell us that the company has teamed up with AT&T to design, build and operate free wireless networks in different cities. The deal is with AT&T Enterprise Services division of […]

The Municipal Wireless market just got more interesting. Sources close to MetroFi, a Sunnyvale, California-based start-up tell us that the company has teamed up with AT&T to design, build and operate free wireless networks in different cities. The deal is with AT&T Enterprise Services division of AT&T. Riverside, California will be first city to get a service bid from the new alliance.

This is huge deal for MetroFi, which is building wireless networks in about a dozen cities around the US. MetroFi has been viewed as a laggard in the space, even though it has snagged some big cities. The company earlier this month won a bid to build and operate a big network in Portland, Oregon. It has similar deals with San Jose, California as well. More than MetroFi, the deal could have major impact on the whole Muni Wireless space.

First of all it validates the MuniFi movement, which so far has been vehemently opposed by the incumbents. A volte face if there was any. Secondly, it also puts a serious crimp in the plans of others, namely Earthlink, which have been counting on the MuniFi business to future proof themselves.

  1. Hey bro, I really like your articles in business 2.0. I just found your blog and will be adding it to my daily reading list.

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  2. wait… AT&T, aka the deathstar, has partnered to build a municipal wifi network??

    i thought all AT&T knew how to do was beg the government for permission to eliminate competition.

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  3. Looks like its time for the rebel forces to start searching for r2 units and get to work on figuring out how to take down the deathstar.

    It is telling that this is announced only a few days after MetroFi got the greenlight for the city planners of Portland to do up that city with spectrum squashing wifi.

    Everyone with exisiting wifi networks in Portland must be woindering if they should rename the city to Alderan.

    CmdAkbar (retired)

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  4. Jesse Kopelman Friday, July 21, 2006

    Why does this put a crimp in Earthlink’s plans? I would say it instead validates them. Competition is a pretty good indicator of potential for profit. Anyway, it’s not like any single company was going to run every single municipal wireless network that got built in the entire country. Well, at least not without many rounds of M&A activity.

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  5. Richard Stevens Saturday, July 22, 2006

    I beg to differ. AT&T has a long history of partnering with “new comers” in new areas they consider a threat to their core business, only to “squeeze them” out of existence at later date. Who can forget AtHome?

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  6. Marty Hahnfeld Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Some bias here as MetroFi is a customer of mine, however I need to take exception to the “MetroFi has been viewed as a laggard in the space” comment… um, By whom exactly?

    Let’s see… they have basically pioneered the Ad-supported Free service tier model in the MuniFi space (yes, I know Google probably started it with their original SF chatter, but MetroFi put it in play before anybody else).

    They have arguably the largest operating WiFi mesh network in existance — located in the valley, the only comparable in size is Tempe which is a disaster by comparison and MobilePro is running away from their awards.

    They service 10’s of thousands of users on the network successfully and with a good (and getting better) user experience.

    They have been winning most competitive situations they enter.

    They have attracted Tier-1 venture capital money, while no other pure-play in the game has either had to or been successful at it. (ie – there is confidence in their ability to turn a profit and succeed).

    They have now attracted and partnered with the largest communications provider in the land.

    Yup… sounds really “laggard-like” to me…

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