Evert Bopp writes about municipal wifi:
The majority of networks that failed, failed because of either an in-ability to understand the technology used (in regards to performance, signal propagation, interference etc.), a lousy business model (unrealistic revenue forecasts, over reliance on third party content etc.) or a combination of both.
The lack of understanding of the technology quite often lead to the network either using not enough wireless nodes resulting in bad coverage, low throughput, high latency and other performance problems or to too many wireless nodes causing signal interference, “node hopping” etc. also resulting on performance problems. All this results in a dissatisfied user which in turn leads to bad publicity, falling revenue and investors losing confidence.
Lousy business models more often than not contained unrealistic user numbers and inflated revenue forecasts. Combine the two and you have a recipe for disaster.
I’m enchanted by the idea of muni-wifi even to the point that I almost bought fifty (50, countem) mesh nodes from Meraki for deployment around Belfast.
- This hardware was to be funded out of my own pocket.
- There were going to be 3-4 network uplinks funded too, out of my own pocket – yes, using cheap-ass broadband links.
- This was to cover the city centre as best I could, providing free (sign-up based) access to t’internet.
- This was to invite others to assist by providing backup links, sharing bandwidth.
- I hoped to entice additional mesh links via Belfast City Council.
I approached Belfast City Council and was told there was no need for something like this because BT was already providing BT OpenZone for Â£6 an hour. Seriously.
My desire for this was based on the number of times I wanted faster access to the Internet when I was in town. At the time I only had my Newt (with WiFi), my laptop (with WiFi), my Nokia N800 (with WiFi) or my iPod touch. I see less of a need for it these days because of my iPhone and the unlimited data plan but speedier access is still welcome. Because of unlimited data plans along with telephone calls and texts, the cost of data has reduced to effectively zero. This is going to make it hard in the future to justify any charge-based networks in the future. I certainly never join BTOpenZone networks these days.
While I love the idea of it, I have no confidence in the ability of councils to deliver. It’ll have to be private companies and then how are they to make money.