Municipal WiFiUnfair Competition?

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Philadelphia joins the list of the latest municipalities looking to install a city-wide wireless network. As HP and Earthlink place their bids for the project, regional ISPs are crying foul for understandable fears that tax-supported wireless networks will drive them out of business.

This TechNewsWorld article outlines the proposal in Philadelphia, which is hoped to be up and running within two months (in government time, that’s six months) covering 135 square miles or 95% of the outdoors.

The $10-$18 million project dwarfs San Francisco’s plan to stretch wireless access 49 square miles south of the Golden Gate bridge.

Both cities have minimum requirements of 1Mbps of throughput for every user, allowing easy link ups through WiFi enabled notebooks, PDAs, and mobile phones.

We are certainly witnessing a social movement, and one that most of us won’t mind contributing our tax dollars toward. But what happens to broadband ISPs once the entire online world has free online access?

Intel has committed to lending its technical capabilities to 13 cities worldwide for community WiFi-and have even developed a PC specially designed for outdoors in remote areas connectible by WiMAX, running on car batteries.

Google, a company that suddenly commands serious attention from everyone as each new development from the Googleplex thunderously drops like a tech-boulder on competitors, is rumored to be buying up cables to provide nationwide ad-supported wireless service.

Japan and Great Britain are already testing out WiMAX signals on their train systems so commuters can have Internet access while they commute.

Universities, too, are beginning the wireless shift for students. Add that to the restaurants, libraries, and cafes that have WiFi offerings, and it becomes evident that traditional ISPs are going by the wayside as everybody will be able to jack into the Internet any time. Before long, they just won’t be necessary.

It will be interesting how service providers cope with the hits they will be soon taking.

Municipal WiFiUnfair Competition?
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