Philadelphia Story: Verizon opposition is setting muni Wi-Fi market on fire

For Tropos, the leading provider of mesh networks for municipal Wi-Fi, business is booming, at least in part because of Verizon's heavy-handed attacks on Philadelphia's Wi-Fi plans.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor on

Philadelphia has finalized a contract with Earthlink to own and operate a Wi-Fi network covering 135 square miles of the City of Brotherly Love. That deal marks a watershed in the growth of muni Wi-Fi, as the biggest Wi-Fi deployment in the US. For Tropos, the company handling Wi-Fi hardware in the deal, Philadelphia has opened up the floodgates of demand for their wireless mesh technology.

The Philadelphia plan made national news when Verizon responded by pushing for passage of a bill in Pennsylvania that gives incumbent providers veto power over cities that  try to create and charge for  Wi-Fi networks. And it's that very heavy-handed opposition that has been pushing more cities to adopt Wi-Fi, Tropos CEO Ron Sege told eWeek.

"If it hadn't been for [Verizon] getting so defensive, the market may not have picked up so fast," said Ron Sege, CEO of Tropos, adding that he knows of more than 190 cities considering metro-scale Wi-Fi in 2006.

Now, Tropos is in talks with cable companies to provide municipal Wi-Fi to city and regional governements, Sege told Red Herring last week.

Cable companies will likely be the next service providers to adopt this technology, and eventually even the telcos will be forced to use ubiquitous Wi-Fi, said Tropos CEO Ron Sege in an interview with RedHerring.com on Wednesday.


While Mr. Sege declined to name specific cable companies, he said the cable industry is interested in this technology because it could give them a way to compete on the mobile front. Cell phones with Wi-Fi radios can make VoIP calls over Wi-Fi networks.


Mr. Sege is confident that citywide Wi-Fi is a technology that will be adopted by all broadband providers, even telcos, which have been the most aggressive about fighting publicly built muni Wi-Fi networks.


“It’s just like any ubiquitous technology,” Mr. Sege said. “It’s like the PC.”



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