Rise of the Wireless Metro Nets

Welcome To Broadband City – Business Week jumps on the Metro Nets bandwagon and pens in my opinion a full bodied piece.

New technologies — which extend the range of wireless broadband from Wi-Fi’s cafe scale to metro-size — can cost a fraction of what competing cable and phone systems must pay to dig up streets and upgrade lines. By sending signals over the airwaves from inexpensive antennas mounted on light poles, small-town mayors and local entrepreneurs around the country are already providing low-cost broadband. Now large cities are getting into the act. Corpus Christi and Houston are moving forward on Wi-Fi networks, as is Philadelphia, which recently announced plans to build its own $10 million Wi-Fi network. By next year the city hopes to offer free or cheap broadband access to its 1.5 million residents. “We want everyone to have an equal opportunity to compete in this digital age,” says Dianah Neff, the city’s chief information officer. Not surprisingly, cable and telcos aren’t happy about their new rivals. The muni wireless network is an unexpected twist in what had been a two-way race to sign up broadband subscribers. By creating “a third pipeline,” muni networks should lower prices and speed the spread of broadband, says Michael Calabrese, vice-president at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.