A newly published Information Week article calls into question the short-to-mid-term market appeal of municipal Wi-Fi.
Muni Wi-Fi built by such service providers as MetroFi- one of whose access points is pictured above.
While not breaking formative new ground, the article notes that many of these projects have been contracted in haste, built on what the article's author Richard Martin calls dubious "build it and they will come" economic models.
Martin then cites various municipal WiFi disappointments, such as
Tempe, Arizona- Spotty coverage, resulting in a doubling of that city's Wi-Fi nodes;
Anaheim, California- Non fee-paying subscribers- such as municipal users - are increasingly being recruited to bridge the revenue gap.
Glendale, California- Originally envisioned as ad-supported and free, that city's Municipal Wi-Fi probably needs a subscription model to be viable.
San Francisco- Critics question that because Wi-Fi is so widely available, a municipal Wi-Fi alternative isn't that necessary.
My own opinion is that although we are early in the game, the commercial and technical models for making Municipal Wi-Fi succeed aren't a sure bet.