Cities Still Heart WiFi

The San Francisco WiFi project might be dragging its feet, but more major cities are considering city-wide WiFi. Some ask why build these large WiFi networks when there’s mobile WiMAX coming? Two answers: WiFi equipment is cheap and available now.

Colorado has plans for a 220-square-mile WiFi network that will span 10 cities and more than 600,000 people. The ‘Colorado Wireless Communities’ project plans to release an RFP by November 1st. Philadelphia is moving along and released a map of its 15-mile WiFi test area. Chicago released its RFP earlier this week, and Washington state will get a pretty big network in Pierce County built by Century Tel.

Tropos CEO Ron Sege said to me last year that there is a need for more muni WiFi network operators, i.e. more companies to compete with Earthlink. He said then that VCs are looking at options in that space. Since then companies like MetroFi, Metro Connect, CenturyTel and even Google have started deployments. That’s not to mention interest from the carriers and cable companies. What do you think, do cities looking at muni WiFi need more operator options?

Update: The planned network in Washington state is in Pierce County, which is reported to have 1,500 square miles – didn’t mean to imply entire state.

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