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Municipal WiFi Costs Outweigh Benefits

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the subtle-jabs dept.

Wireless Networking 322

TheSync writes "JupiterResearch claims that muni WiFi costs outweigh benefits. It can cost up to $150,000 per square mile over five years, which may not even provide each user a benefit of $25 a month. They suggest that such projects only be taken on as public-private partnerships."

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Minor Details (4, Insightful)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012388)

First, the article says the average cost is $150,000, not up to $150k.

Second, it says an assumed $25/month benefit, not that it's not even $25/month. Also, Internet access costs me $40/month, so...

Third, it says the first five years, which includes all manner of infrastructure creation. Even a major network upgrade would likely cost less later on, because you don't have to find locations, put up towers, etc. I'd like to see the per year estimates, but I'm not subscribed to Jupiter's service.

If your town/city is going through the work and effort to build this manner of network, hopefully someone is going to notify your citizens and try to get them onboard. By Jupiter's reckoning, it takes an average 100 users per square mile to cover the costs. Now, if your city/town put any real effort into this project, you'd probably let people know that free Internet access is a $40 network card away. Get local computer stores to stock up on the cards and ask them to chip in on an ad campaign. They can offer a flat-rate installation service (with caveats for running into problems, etc)

Re:Minor Details (4, Insightful)

BadDoggie (145310) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012407)

Additionally, JupiterResearch make their money by selling their reports and their consulting services to other businesses. Their opinions are hardly unbiased, as the selective "study" of only the first five years of running the network shows.


Re:Minor Details (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012475)

The report is motivated by a paucity of unbiased analysis for stakeholders assessing the merits of government involvement in broadband wireless networks based on Wi-Fi.
... their motivation makes sense, kinda
  1. "Hey, everyone else is releasing biased reports!"
  2. "There must be a market for biased reports!"
  3. "Lets release our own biased report!"
  4. PROFIT !!!
Fucktards (both Jupiter and anyone who pays for this "report").

Re:Minor Details (3, Funny)

telecsan (170227) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012502)

I figured that paucity of unbiased analysis had to be an anagram for something, and I got as far as stupid false bias, but I have some leftover letters...

Re:Minor Details (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012606)

"unbiased analysis" gives "Alas inane subsidy". It's a start ...

Re:Minor Details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012987)

I believe you lose an "i" for an "e" since you need the plural form of analysis, which is analyses. You can't have a paucity of a singular element.

Re:Minor Details (3, Interesting)

3dr (169908) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012914)

From the press release (a press release about a WiFi report?) this report doesn't sound anything more than subjective fluff. However, it's material that SBC and other muni WiFi blockers would love to quote.

Only reporting on a limited scope isn't bias, it's merely a boundary.

What gets me is the emphasis on breakeven points, profiteering opportunities, etc. Not everything needs a 100% quantifiable ROI. Muni WiFi is just that; the benefit it provides is a convenience for the community for both casual users (check mah email) and mobile workers. I.e., build it if you can afford it.

As a last resort, we could always measure the usage in kilogirls.

Re:Minor Details (3, Interesting)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012954)

No doubt. The way I read that, they're trying to convince small municipalities that they can't do it alone, but if they bring in some other business (that will drive costs up for the municipality) it'll work.

What they fail to mention is whom it works/doesn't work for. WIFI in small communities doesn't work for Big Business when the community does it effectively. It does work for Big Business if you can layer the FUD enough to convince the community to piss money into a private company for no reason at all.

I've seen enough small town WIFI installations, done by the community, to know that this 'report' is a low down dirty shame.

Anyone seen any reports from the other angle? Reports on communities successfully deploying WIFI on their own, for low cost?

Re:Minor Details (2, Insightful)

arkanes (521690) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012429)

I don't see how they get from from needing 100 people per square mile to it being unfeasible. Any reasonably populated metro area has several times that number. Urban or suburban wi-fi would be dicier, but I think everyone already knew that.

Re:Minor Details (4, Interesting)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012775)

There's a brand new neighborhood just a few blocks south of me here. I figured I try out my new GPS puck w/ NetStumbler on my laptop, just to see how it worked out. I picked up about 30 APs in substantially *less* than 1/4 square mile, and there's still empty lots available. Assuming the whole square mile could be made over to housing, there'd be at least 120 APs.

What would be a reasonable average proportion of wired internet to wireless?? We get both Cable Internet and DSL around here, and I'd guess the wired households probably outnumber the wireless household by at least 2 or 3 to 1. OK, not all the wired households would go wireless, but some would. We dropped cable completely because the cable (digital TV + internet) costs kept creeping up. DSL + DishTV turned out to be cheaper, plus there're no port or server restrictions... If wireless was available at a competitive price, we'd certainly consider it.

Re:Minor Details (2, Funny)

Ruvim (889012) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012436)

And then, a town/city can start issuing tickets for people using this open network without permission thus getting their budget fixed, refering to this story [] as a legal precendent.

Re:Minor Details (2, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012541)

Um-okay- here is the issue. Take other infastructure, like roads. Allowing for inflation and all, the cost of repaving or putting in a new road stays fairly static, so a report on the cost makes sense.
The problem is that we aren't talking about ass-fault, we are talking about wi-fi. In 5 years there may be a totally new way of putting in the systems, or the cost may come down so low that it is laughable.
So a report on what a new tech will cost is sort of ridicerous. I mean, if you decided to buy every student in a certain school a nice new PC 10 years ago, the number $$ would be very different than it is now.

Re:Minor Details (5, Informative)

sjwaste (780063) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012865)

Let me put my "I have a business degree" spin on this (I do).

5-year projected statements are the norm for a consultant, especially one with an agenda. They might have a contract on the back burner with a telecom carrier to project the same project if they were to do it as a private project.

Second, they're making a lot of assumptions, such as internet service penetration at a given price point (estimating demand accurately is hard). Their net benefit figure probably comes from a weighted average of those on dialup and broadband, paying their respective rates currently.

Also, they're estimating cost on a project where the exact technology used probably hasn't even been determined (for instance, WiMax doesn't yet fully exist), and doesn't take into account existing infrastructure (poles, etc already exist in many places).

I agree that this is a half-assed article. I'm just trying to shed some light on what makes it a half-assed article, from the economic consulting point of view.

Re:Minor Details (3, Informative)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012922)

I put this together last time, but by the time I had it done the story was gone off the front page.

A previous story here on /. commented on [] costs to provide wi-fi access to a 16-sq. mile area to be about $600,000. Based on that, as well as old Census data [] , I came up with a highly simplified cost chart [] for the major metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Based on that, there's no clear evidence that wi-fi is absolutely cost-effective or absolutely not cost effective. It really depends on your city and a lot of other factors. I would hazard a guess that low-density areas are not going to do well. (That's why Casper, Wymoing and Yuma, Arizona, and Bismarck, North Dakota all are at the bottom of the list).

If you have better cost info, you can always play with the data yourself.

costs outweigh the benefits? (5, Interesting)

thegoogler (792786) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012394)

ive heard the same said about public transportation a few times, and im sure it was said about the power system(which is municipal, at least in some areas)

Re:costs outweigh the benefits? (1)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012616)

ive heard the same said about public transportation a few times

I don't know about most areas, but in Southeastern Pennsylvania, SEPTA [] can never make as much money in fares as it needs to spend. Even with generous government subsidies, it has massive budget shortfalls year after year after year.

Now the governor of Pennsylvania, in an amazingly audacious or clever move (depending on your viewpoint) is figuring out a way to redirect federal highway dollars to the public transportation system. []

Say what you will about the benefits of a public transportation system, I realize there is an argument that can be made on both sides. But realize that it is a public welfare system. No different than a public WiFi network.

Re:costs outweigh the benefits? (2, Insightful)

JudicatorX (455442) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012818)

I realize there is an argument that can be made on both sides. But realize that it is a public welfare system.

As opposed to the bagillions of dollars spent on roadways because the existing ones are too crowded for the cars that people want to put on them?

Re:costs outweigh the benefits? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012907)

When you consider Fast Eddy is from Philly, it's no wonder he'll do everything in his power to keep bailing as fast he can to keep the city afloat.

Let's not forget the tons of money that are thrown to the city (and Pittsburgh) every year to cover up the massive budget deficts.

While we're on the subject of subsidizing, it's almost a given that when government subsidizes the construction of sports stadiums, the revenue generated over the years from those stadiums will not equal or exceed the original cost. In other words, it's a money losing proposition.

Lest anyone think it's a strictly Democratic issue (heavy subsidization) it should be noted that former Governor Tom Ridge (also former head of Homeland Security) gave millions of taxpayer dollars to Pittsburgh to build their new stadium as well sending millions to Philadelphia to keep the Kvaerner shipyard open and saving a whopping 100 jobs.

No, I'm not bitter at the incompetence of our elected leaders. Really I'm not. After all, when they can raise our taxes, cut services, give themselves a pay raise AND use legal bribery to keep themselves in power, why would I be bitter.

(Sorry for the offtopic rant. Our state budget was just passed and everything I said is true including the legal bribery part.)

Re:costs outweigh the benefits? (1)

dieman (4814) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012980)

Roads are a public welfare system, then.

Also, how much is farebox revenue covering costs? 30%-50%?

Over the past few years our state has had issues with transit because the politicans moved it to an unstable funding source to 'reform' property taxes.

Lastly, your second link illustrates that the government continually punts the healthcare issue to other people (ie: taxpayers in this case). Every time this happens I think we need to be very pissed off that our leaders can't figure out a way to push down these costs for all users of healthcare. Education has much of the same problem from what I hear. Less money for kids because healthcare costs are up.

Do they now? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012396)

I don't suppose JupiterResearch just happen to have a Public Private Partnership group for providing Municipal WiFi by any chance?

actually, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012651)

they don't. Jupiter is a research firm a la Gartner or IDC.

Wi-fi, eh? Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012403)

No, wait; that other word.


Well, Wifi isn't cheap enough (4, Insightful)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012406)

Until you get a fabric network that covers multiple square miles per basestation (a la WiMAX) You'll not see a municipal implementation over a metro area.

Sure there are exceptions (where town.size approaches zero) or (starbuck.count approaches infinity) but this is just the economics catching up with the technology.

If you've got a connection at home, and you've got a connection on the Bus, and you've got a connection via your cellphone, and yuo've got a connection via your coffee shop, why does a city have to be 100% covered by 802.11a/b/g? GPRS/EDGE/3g/future can (and initially will) pick up the slack.

Re:Well, Wifi isn't cheap enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012430)

If you've a connection at home, and you've a connection on the Bus, and you've a connection via your cellphone, and you've a connection via your coffee shop, and you're confident that GPRS/EDGE/3g/future will pick up the slack - well, this service really isn't for you, is it? Too bad you're a tiny minority in American society.

Re:Well, Wifi isn't cheap enough (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012525)

Too bad you're a tiny minority in American society. [ Reply to This ]
Yes, for I am the early adopter. This won't be a solved issue for the next 10 years or so.

Or, more likely, we'll realize that you Don't Need Pervasive Internet's just another fantasy us Geeks have.

Re:Well, Wifi isn't cheap enough (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012778)

why does a city have to be 100% covered by 802.11a/b/g?

It doesn't but people like having Internet access all over their home area while only paying for it once.

I have GPRS, I have DSL, and I have wireless access via Panera and "nice neighbors". Guess what? The GPRS connection (and device) aren't cheap -- I pay $20/month on top of my cell phone plan for data service, luckily the phone was free. The DSL connection I have is ~$55/mo. The wireless connections I can take advantage of require a wireless LAN card and a device to take advantage of it (i.e. a laptop or PDA for practical use).

If I only had to have one device and I could use Internet all over my home area for $25/mo, I'd be a lot better off.

Please note: I'm not a fan of muni-wifi due to privacy implications.

It has to work better, first (5, Interesting)

NineNine (235196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012408)

Honestly, wi-fi in general needs to work better before people are going to use it exclusively. We just stopped using our town's free wi-fi because it sucked. And, I stopped using it in my house a few months back, also. I've never seen a solid, stable, fast wi-fi implementation. It's fun and cute for people checking their email quickly at Starfucks, but wi-fi still isn't there (from everything I've seen) for a regular, dedicated connection.

Re:It has to work better, first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012444)

Uh, try changing the broadcast channel.

Re:It has to work better, first (1)

jonoton (804262) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012504)

Are your experiences with it only in 'public' areas or private?

We're using wireless for large projects where a wired infrastructure is impractical. Sure there are problems - APs go down (like any other piece of hardware) and there are RF interferance issues, but generally just moving a few feet is enough to clear problem up.

I'm on wireless now, and I use it almost exclusively so I can keep my laptop's ethernet port free for testing things out.

Re:It has to work better, first (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012854)

but generally just moving a few feet is enough to clear problem up.

Kind of like your computer with short hair and nerd glasses walking around saying "Can you hear me now?... Good."

Re:It has to work better, first (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012915)

We actually work with some wireless as well and my experiences with wireless (several years) is that I'd much rather have wires but there are problems that can pretty much only be handled by wireless. Given the choice of either on my desk, I'll take wires before wireless any day.

1) Wireless connections in certain areas just aren't reliable because you get dropped and readded a lot because of interference.
2) While wireless "ignores" walls a wall between you and your AP degrades the signal a bit - causing general slowdown in your network - sure, you may be running at 54Mb but you have to retransmit a lot of packets which degrades your performance a bit.
3) You have to worry more about security (WEP is practically worthless, for example, then you also have to worry about broadcasting your ssid and such).

The range sucks. (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012529)

I've also got some issues with AirPort topology (the GUI has never heard of it. It assumes a single server/client[s] installation).

Maybe its the antenas, maybe its the transmitters, but it sucks that I get better reception from the neighbor's WAP through the floor/ceiling than I can get from my own unobstructed AirPort WAP from 50 feet away.

I know about the inverse square rule with distance but it sucks that the none of the Airport set up software can understand about repeaters. I can only have a star network.

Re:It has to work better, first (4, Informative)

Gaewyn L Knight (16566) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012543)

I would suggest you either get new hardware or a new OS then....

For example... my home internet connection is a 6.1 mile 802.11b connection to the campus where I work and my laptop usually connects over a wrt54g unit in my basement. I am currently downloading an ISO over both of these at a hair over 230KB/s and that is the norm.

Also.. the only outtages I have ever had from any wireless are when the units themselves have lost power due to bad UPSs. (Hint... UPS in top of water tower == lightning bait :} )

If you are having these problems I would suggest you fix the location/number of APs to get proper coverage of the area... change your wifi card to see if it is just that... or if you are using an semi-old version of windows upgrade to a newer one or to linux and get some stable drivers.

Anyways... just my 2 cents...

Re:It has to work better, first (1)

ttelrocj (690346) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012733)

So your university connection will average $915,000.00 over the next five years....

Re:It has to work better, first (2, Informative)

Balaam's Donkey (697975) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012862)

I'm not sure what setup you've been using, but I've been exclusively wi-fi at home for about 3 years now. It's been very stable, and fast too. We connect to the internet via Fios, and I consistently see us using the max connection speed over the fiber.

The equipment we us is all Apple: airport & airport extreme cards + a 2nd gen airport base station (not extreme).

Re:It has to work better, first (2, Interesting)

TheSync (5291) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012924)

I think the problem is spectrum congestion. The last few times I've been in Manhattan, I've often found 802.11b to be useless because of the large number of hotspots and users overlapping.

Hark to my voice of warning! (5, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012418)

Hear me before it is too late! SHUN the evil of the Three P's, Public Private Partnership! Turn ye either to the left, to publically funded projects, or to the right, to the blessed land of private enterprise -- but walk not the middle path, the path of the Three P's!

Once, this land of England was fair and pleasant, with mighty Industry and caring Government working hand in hand! Then came the Three P's! They promised us cost savings and social responsibility, but they delivered nothing -- nothing save gigantic invoices and permanent damage to the environmental and social fabric of the nation!

Turn aside, oh turn, I beg you, America, from this path of wickedness! For the evil of Bloated Government Inefficiency is in them, and the sin of Greedy Private Contractors they likewise have! And the private half shall spend, yea spend and spend, and the public half will know not nor care where the money has gone!

Repent therefore, repent before they do unto you as they have unto Europe!

My words have the semblance of jest, but the danger is deadly serious.

An entreaty to moderate upwards (2, Funny)

loadquo (659316) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012482)

Yea and indeed verily.

This missive does indeed speak the truth. I encourage those of you blessed with the points of moderation to bestow them unstintingly and with the fullness of your heart to the above post, so that the multitudes may come to know of this cautionary tale of Britannic woe.

Re:An entreaty to moderate upwards (1)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012661)

You have displayed Charity. 5 XP

Re:Hark to my voice of warning! (2, Insightful)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012495)

And I had *wondered* where all the good jobs went! I'm off to the local PPP, resume in hand! This sounds like a BOON for IT workers who feel under-employed. Anybody like that on Slashdot? Thanks, er, Padre.

BTW: For those moderating today--I am making a JOKE. If you don't get it, keep your filthy "offtopic" hands off my post.

Re:Hark to my voice of warning! (2, Interesting)

Sol_Web_Dude (889149) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012500)

Forgive me and my paranoia, but I really don't want the government controlling my access to the Internet.....

They won't. (4, Interesting)

SolemnDragon (593956) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012776)

Simply put: they aren't likely to. Mass transport systems haven't gotten rid of the highways, bike trails, or your own two feet, so i figure public WiFi won't kill off cable modems, etc. Public versions of a thing don't necessarily override the free enterprise system, they just try to provide a lowest common denominator.

Whether this effort does this successfully is what's being debated. It's likely that you will be able to get other forms of internet connection, because having a public version will just give the companies who provide it a point of comparison. But people who will be able to have at least that standard, which may be the point.

My problem with this effort is not the government possibly controlling internet access, it's a.) the governments that try to control web _content_, i.e. China, and b.) the fact that WiFi is useless for people too poor to afford computers. Are they going to provide computers, too? Because the cost per person goes up substantially at that rate- without it, though, it's a profound waste of money anyway.

Me, I'd like my town to have more funding for the library, which lets kids use the computers for homework if they don't have them at home. Or the digital bridge projects out there, which provide home computers for families that don't have them- and training to be able to use them.

Re:Hark to my voice of warning! (4, Informative)

makomk (752139) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012501)

Parent is not kidding, alas.

If you've never heard of PPP, basically it's a way of transferring money from the public sector to the pockets of private individuals.

The theory is that private companies can do some things more efficiently due to their experience and better commerical skills, and that they can take the risk of the project. In reality, it usually ends with the companies using their skills and knowledge to extract large amounts of money from the (possibly naive) Government department funding the project. And sometimes the whole thing just goes pear-shaped and everyone loses out

(Yes, I am cynical.)

Re:Hark to my voice of warning! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012607)

PPP is the way military contracting works in the US and there is no problem in that system. :)

Re:Hark to my voice of warning! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012688)

If you've never heard of PPP, basically it's a way of transferring money from the public sector to the pockets of private individuals.

Oh, we have that here in America. Except we don't call it PPP, we call it the Bush Administration.

Re:Hark to my voice of warning! (1)

Mozai (3547) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012707)

I'm afraid America has already gone in that direction. They've been hiring "contractors" to help out with military actions.

Re:Hark to my voice of warning! (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012988)

Don't bother with warning the US, they invented this practice. ;)

And in other news... (0, Offtopic)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012420)

Microsoft finds Linux more expensive then Windows in the long run.

sorry, I couldn't resist.

Look at Jupitier's motivation: (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012426)

Remember that the research firm is part of Jupitier Media. A company which includes the following branches:
"The Network offers cutting-edge commentary on Internet marketing and advertising from industry leaders as well as original case studies and unique insight.

The Network provides creative professionals with tutorials, news on the latest technologies, and community forums and galleries to display their work.

The,,, and Networks appeal to advertisers and vendors because they provide a community that only delivers information technology, Internet industry and creative professionals, 83% of whom make or influence technology purchasing decisions. Among our advertisers are some of the best known names in information technology and the Internet industry, including Computer Associates, Dell Computer Corporation, International Business Machines Corporation, Google, Microsoft Corporation and Oracle Corporation. " (Copied from their "About Jupitier Media" section)

Of course they back a public-private shared venture, what better way to insert ads into the public Wi-Fi network!

Awfully short-sighted analysis... (2, Insightful)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012446)


According to the report, roughly 50% of current initiatives will fail to breakeven even if the benefit of the initiative is assumed to be $25 per user per month.
Let's also assume a statistical overrepresentation of "connected" workers in the areas so equipped. Let's further assume than most of the systems work acceptably well. Let's even still further more (and yet) assume that those workers are made more efficient through access to their data, their schedules, the people making their schedules, and the ability to review documentation from *wherever* they are. SO there goes Jupiter's $25/month metric.

Muni wi-fi is not intended to simply replace household ISPs. $25/month is a meaningless measure of effectiveness. For one, think of the traffic and fuel costs potentially avoided by allowing wired workers improved access. This is a direct benefit to the city. You know; as long as we're making assumptions.

Re:Awfully short-sighted analysis... (2, Insightful)

marevan (846115) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012537)

but sadly this is the "trend" of the "modern" businesses and individuals. I've often heard elderlies complain that youth of today have "I want it all now, immediatly" - attitude. But this attitude is present at businesses also.

The company I work in (outside US) had a choice to make a pretty expensive repair on our automated lines that should've had long-term effects, but instead they chose a little less expensive with only short-term effects, and now the repairs have to be made each year. Why the poor choice? Because it took less time to get these productionlines online so also moneylines went online faster.

It's same like in the BBC document when they offered children either a) one piece of chockolate now or b) full chockolatebar in 10 minutes and almost all chose A, because to them, there was no "10 minutes later". But shouldn't the grown ups (especially ones in CEO chairs) have more grasp in time versus expences, or time versus profit?

Reminded of Monty Python Scene... (1)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012660)

...from Meaning of Life in which the administrator describes how by selling equipment and leasing it back, it costs more, but the expenses show up in Operations Costs rather than assets (or Capital Outlays, or whatever). Sounds like maybe your executives have seen this movie!

Re:Awfully short-sighted analysis... (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012920)

I agree that trying do determine a dollar figure for "benefits of WiFi" is really unobvious. For instance, what does a 'benefit of $25' mean? It could either mean that I would get the equivalent of $25 more than I didn't have before for the same amount of work, or that I could get the same amount of "stuff" I have now for the equivalent of $25 less with the same amount of work I have, or somewhere between the two. In my situation, $25 benefit is 10 gallons of gasoline or a week of groceries, or half the cost of Internet access, or 85% of my phone bill, or 25% my power bill, etc. I don't see how WiFi can give me any of those things, because it also doesn't reduce the amount of time I have to work for my pay. If anything, it just means I have to do more for my pay ("increased productivity" in this sense really lowers the value of each task, generally requiring me to complete more tasks to get the same benefit).

I'm not sure how "improved access" will reduce traffic and fuel costs; this is a policy issue rather than a technical one. Current wired network infrastructure would support telecommuting on mass scales, but businesses do not allow this. That would be a great benefit, but it would have the hidden detraction of less separation between domicile and workplace.

Contract research (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012452)

I don't know about anyone else but I'm getting skeptical about anything I read from Jupiter, Gartner or any of the big research firms. It's usually being paid for by someone with an agenda and, no surprise, the research tends to support the conclusions the customer wants. After a while you just stop paying attention to them. They've sold their credibility.

Re:Contract research (1)

stienman (51024) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012742)

It's usually being paid for by someone with an agenda and, no surprise, the research tends to support the conclusions the customer wants.

Please note that this isn't necessarily the fault of the research firm. The customer gets to set the bounds of the research, and these boundaries determine the outcome.

A company could not/would not give Jupiter or Gartner carte blanche because they would run them dry - research is infinite, and bounds must be set.

So don't blame the research firm, or even the industry. This is blatant PR. If the company paying for the research wants to spend their money in this way, let them. We all know they aren't doing it for the knowledge. The reports they expect to get real knowledge out of are held confidential.


Pretty Funny (3, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012453)

One company that I was at, did WiFi. It is not even close to 20K square mile to do it. I am guessing that we will find that this study was funded by some company such as Comcast, bellsouth, etc.

Re:Pretty Funny (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012595)

One company that I was at, did WiFi. It is not even close to 20K square mile to do it. I am guessing that we will find that this study was funded by some company such as Comcast, bellsouth, etc.
Possibly. Or more likely it was a company that represents that private part of that Private/Public Partnerships mentioned in the article.

I got the jist that it was along the lines of: "No, no, no, don't do WiFi yourself, it just costs too much. We'll do it for you have save you $$$$ millions!"

Believe it or not, there are tons of companies right now working to setup such private/public partnerships with a lot of cities either considering doing it themselves or still on the fence about it. This article reaks of being a marketing piece for those companies.

Re:Pretty Funny (1)

schon (31600) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012901)

I got the jist that it was along the lines of: "No, no, no, don't do WiFi yourself, it just costs too much. We'll do it for you have save you $$$$ millions!"

The thing you have to ask yourself is this:

If it will *really* lose millions of dollars each year, why does the company want to do it?

Yeah, every company *I* know has millions of dollars that it has to lose each year, right? Isn't that the purpose of a company, to give away all of its' money?

WiFi Story (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012465)

Did anyone else see anything funny with a WiFi story being posted at 8:02.11 in the morning?


The Politics of this Study (4, Insightful)

braddock (78796) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012467)

This study needs to be looked at very skeptically, because there is a lot of money right now trying to discourage municipal wifi systems. Why? Because any new legislation being pushed by the telcom companies to ban municipal wifi as unfair competition would have to grandfather in any existing municipal wifi systems and allow them to continue to operate and even expand.

Many of the Wifi activists (Boston Area Wireles [] for example) are trying to convince local governments to at least establish a single note public Wifi system just so that they can continue to operate if the telecom industry manages to outlaw public networks.

It's pretty obvious which side of this battle has the money and motive to pay for "independent" research.


Re:The Politics of this Study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012877)

It's pretty obvious which side of this battle has the money and motive to pay for "independent" research.
That's right, they both do.

That's Really Oversimplied (2, Insightful)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012470)

Given that I could only read a short summary instead of the whole report, I could be way off on this. Nonetheless, if it costs $25/month to break even then I say go for it! Why? Because the benefits per month to an individual is EASILY $25/Month. Then let's add in the benefit to your local business. Let's not forget Metcalfe[sp?]'s law. The value of a network goes up as more people participate. Becaues municipal WIFI is free, there will be a ton of people joining and using it, especially the lower income people. This opens up that many more people as potential customers for local businesses and services. Then let's add in the value of convience. To be able to rely on a constant network connection anywhere in town is invaluable. Do they realize how much people are willing to pay just for that? I know businesses would love to send their people around town and be able to communicate with them reliably anywhere in town for free.

$25/month per person is NOTHING! Infrastructures to enable people to work together are usually good investments for the government. Let's just ask S. Korea what they think about widespread access...

Person to person idea transmission will save us (2, Insightful)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012583)

Right, a muni wifi network that is low cost or free to the user could save America (yes, pseudoLibertarians, I realize it would have to be paid for by taxes, hence the phrase "to the user").

I say this because right now the mass media is responsible for the transmission of the vast majority of political/social ideas. Outside of internet forums and colleges, very little transmission of political ideas is going on from person to person. All ideas come from the mass media.

However, the mass media is owned and operated by the elite, the upper crust, the high earners, the rich, the powerful. These people have political ideas that are different from most working class Americans. In particular, the elite have ideas that favor the elite, not surprisingly. What sorts of ideas favor the elite? Well, the idea of a flat tax favors the elite because the elite get to keep more of their wealth. And it hurts us. THe elite like regressive taxation. That hurts us and helps them.

THe elite like globalization. But it hurts us.

The elite like lots of immigration. But that hurts us working American citizens.

The elite like war. It opens up new markets for the corporations. But we die in these wars.

So, these elite-friendly ideas are favored by the elite. And the mass media is controlled by the elite.

100 years ago, most idea transmission was person to person. And not surprisingly that was when the working people fought and died for a decent workplace, for labor laws, for the right to vote.

We no longer fight for our rights. And so we are losing them. Look at Europe. They work less and get more. We work more and get less. That is because our culture has been taken over by elite thinking via the mass media.

If we want to change our culture back to a workerist-friendly one, and not an elite-friendly one, we need to have a society where ideas are transmitted from working person to working person, not from a few elite persons to muliple working persons. Muni wifi could be the way to do that. Once you get free or very cheap broadband via muni wifi, and you put that together with p2p networks to pass video from person to person, that opens up the way for video entertainment made on the cheap.

This is how the early American theater was, about 100 years ago. The first movies were not shown in opulent theaters like they are now. Instead most were shown in the corners of little urban bodegas, and most movies were made on the cheap by semi-amateur filmmakers. Many of the early movies were strongly pro-worker and anti-elite. These early movies helped start the labor movement that gave us our labor laws (see the book Working Class Hollywood for more info).

Then the big money moved in and bought some politicians and outlawed the small movies via safety regulations and political censorship.

Muni wifi + p2p could be the new movie industry. And it could revitalize America.

Re:Person to person idea transmission will save us (3, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012897)

THe elite like globalization. But it hurts us.
Any evidence on this? Free Trade and globalisation have certainly driven up the quality of life in pretty much all of the west, and is beginning to help elsewhere.

The elite like lots of immigration. But that hut
rts us working American citizens.

Now this is just plain crap. You do know what Ellis Island was don't you? Immigration does NOT hurt working Americans, it HELPS by increasing the GDP of the country and aiding in growth, it also provides people for the jobs that help your quality of life but you would never do (Strawberry picking in CA anyone?).

Its amazing how Americans can say that Free Trade and Immigration are bad, when these are EXACTLY the things that made America great. Absolutely Amazing.

Re:Person to person idea transmission will save us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012940)

Look at Europe. They work less and get more. We work more and get less.

thats no longer true
a few years ago work weeks were being cut short
now we see a trend that makes weeks longer in some industries a lot longer for the same pay
retirement ages are being raised by 10 years

and the list goes on, sure europes health care system still rocks in some countries
but the gras is turning yellow.
well europes still green incomparison to africa

"lower income people"? (1)

sczimme (603413) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012659)

Becaues municipal WIFI is free, there will be a ton of people joining and using it, especially the lower income people.

So there is a demographic that can afford computers with wireless capabilities but cannot afford monthly ISP fees? I'm not saying such folk don't exist; I'm saying it's probably a very small niche and probably shouldn't be factored into your scenario.

Let's just ask S. Korea what they think about widespread access...

This is a red herring: South Korea has a large market for wired networking, due in some part to the relative population density. The requirements driving wired markets are not the same as those driving wireless markets, and the two ideas should not be viewed as equivalent in a discussion of wireless.

Another Coin Operated "research lab"? (3, Insightful)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012486)

This "research" is almost certainly bought and paid for by the telcos.

Common sense will tell you that muni wifi is a good thing for you and me and a bad thing for the telcos. If the costs of muni wifi outweigh the benefits, then why are the telcos spending so much money buying all this legislation to outlaw muni wifi?

Also, there are cities that have already implemented muni wifi, therefore why not go loko at their implementation, and SEE what the costs and benefits are? Why bother with this fake research? And did the telcos pay Slashdot to run this article?

Re:Another Coin Operated "research lab"? (1)

hburch (98908) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012675)

I agree that the report is most likely funded by telcos, and thus biased. JupiterResearch did not reveal the funding source.

That said, the whole idea of the report was to look at existing municipal "WiFi" projects. From TFA:

The report examines at the character of current projects across the U.S., estimates the associated costs, and identifies the benefit opportunities.
Benefits are difficult to quantify, especially given that some (most?) projects are not fully deployed. Almost none would be five years old to have the full benefit, even if the benefit was really measurable.

Bullshit (2, Insightful)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012493)

There are a HUGE number of things that municpalities do that can be considered money losers. I get the feeling that JupiterResearch probably has some sort of vested interest in wi-fi networks.

As for "public/private" goes. Endeavors like that are always funded with tax money, but any income goes into private pockets. Which means that it STILL will be a money loser for municipalities.

Municipal Wireless Report (1)

LISNews (150412) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012503)

To actually RTFR you'll need to be a "JupiterResearch client" but here's a link to more than just that press release: Municipal Wireless [] .

There's not much there, though a few other places have picked up bits, no one has the actual important parts that could tell us is this report is worth the bits its printed on.
We're supposed to trust research "reported on" in a press release?

Municipal Wifi is a bust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012507)

I really dislike this idea. Why force another service on the public that not every member of the public wants or will even use. There are far better outlets for the money than to provide a service for a few people to d/l their porn/copyrighted material anonymously.

And this is expensive? (4, Informative)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012509)

I live in a New Jersey suburb, population 97,687, land area 30.1 square miles. So with 3,245 people per square mile, and assuming that $150,000 per square mile cost, that works out to $46.22 per person over 5 years, or about 77 cents a month. Now, granted that not every person will be a user, but I don't see how something like this could end up being prohibitively expensive. If only 1 in every 30 people is a user, it still works out to less than $25 a month, which is significantly cheaper than the broadband offerings in the area anyway.

How will being private make it profitable? (2, Insightful)

ccham (162985) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012517)

Their statement doesn't make any sense economically.

They say that costs outway the benefits. If that is true, then no sane private entity should invest in it.

The only way you would get the service then is if it became a public work. It is the same with any service that cost too much like rural electric. So they should be in favor of municipal WiFi if any. This is not a very credible report.

Quiet! (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012627)

Their statement doesn't make any sense economically. They say that costs outway the benefits. If that is true, then no sane private entity should invest in it.

Shhhhhh! Don't tell anybody.

I was thinking the same thing. The only thing that makes sense is that a private entity could in theory do a project that doesn't pay off as fast - the study focused on the costs over the first 5 years which contains a lot of one-off costs.

I'm doubting that too, though - seems a government would be able to leverage bonds or tax funds mroe easily, and doesn't have to show a profit. So probably BS all around.

Jupiter ? Sounds like Uranus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012520)

A city with city-wide free access wireless internet would attract more business and high tech firms, but can they do it on the cheap?

Not every square inch needs covered - just the main roadways, public buildings, public libraries.

So basically if you sit down for lunch someplace in town, you can pop open your laptop.

It doesn't have to cover all the alleyways in town...

From the authors website... (4, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012523)

"JupiterResearch provides unbiased research, analysis and advice, backed by proprietary data, to help companies profit from the impact of the Internet and emerging technologies on their business."

Thhat don't exactly strike me as comapatible when you're determining whether the governement can or cannot do something cost effectively. This is being sold to companies who, one would presume, would like to convince municipalities to NOT put in a competing (wireless) ISP.

To take my town as an example, we have 40,000 residents spread over 22 square miles. A lot of these are college students (I've excluded on-campus residents from that number) so I'll say 3 people per "household". That's 13,000 potential "subscribers", or 591 per square mile. I'd say more than half here have internet access of some type. If we GAVE away the wifi cards, we might double the infrastructure cost for the first 5 years (20,000x$40/5=160k).

I come up with $16.95 per month per internet-using household. Verizon (who was laying fiber down mainstreet last week) and Adelphia wouldn't be too happy, of course.

Before you think this might be too much money for a small town, we have a PPP for a new parking garage here (and retail shopping building). A developer convinced the town to float at $2M bond to help him build the building, and he gets to charge for parking during the day and for events. Even though we had to borrow the money to do it, the mayor claimed that the town would get (x) free evening and weekend parking spaces for only $20 a month. He forgot that we were borrowing the money, and the number was closer to $50 after interest expenses. That's more than the town pays to lease surface lot space 24/7/365. But, the mayor's been known to go out to lunch - on the developers tab - fairly frequently. Now that its built, of course, nobody wants the park there, because its too far to walk (2-3 blocks) to the "downtown shops", and is used only occasionally when the on-street parking is completely full.

Does that account for town vehicles? civic uses? (2, Insightful)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012540)

If the municipal service is being done in place of upgrading all of the radios in town trucks (garbage, parks, school-grounds, etc.) and emergency services vehicles, and incidentally giving them all access to email and other communications, the benefit to everyone else is just gravy. The goal with any such service is to make it cheap enough that it's not worth metering, and ubiquitous enough that it can be relied on. This is in direct contrast to the goal of any private company, which is to make the highest profit possible. The people who make hardware know that once the hardware is in place it runs for pennies worth of electricity with minimal attention, so they're concentrating on getting buy-in and build-out; it's the people who hope to make money renting out a service who are trying to block things.

WTF! Yeah it is cost effective! (3, Informative)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012550)

Umm, Jupiter Networks needs some basic math skills or to stop being funded by companies who will lose if Muni Wi-Fi succeeds.

Lets see here, One square Mile in FIVE years costs $150,000. At $25.00 a month (per user) that's $1,500 in FIVE years PER user. Now as long as there are at least 10 freakin people per square mile you've at least broke even... and this is in cities, so I think there will be more than 10 damn people using the system.

God, these people who are clawing to keep this from happening to benefit the public for their own greed sicken me. I'm glad we try so hard to build useful infrastructure that is affordable and accessible to all of us who pay 30% of our paychecks to gain some usefulness besides lining some corrupt-ass politician's pockets instead. Our money is *much* better in his pocket than in the community where some benefit would be realized.

And FTR, MY internet access costs more like $40 per month and I'm sure most others do too. Give me a break!

Re:WTF! Yeah it is cost effective! (4, Informative)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012641)

heh, that would be 100 people per square mile before anyone gang rapes me on the math... it's early and I haven' thad my caffiene yet. My bad.

Re:WTF! Yeah it is cost effective! (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012904)

It's not you, but the mods, that I'd like to castigate. You got modded "Insightful" with an obvious flaw in your math on a supposedly tech-savvy web board...

Re:WTF! Yeah it is cost effective! (2, Informative)

syntax (2932) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012667)

10 * $1,500 is $15,000, not $150,000. You'd need at least 100 by your math.

Re:WTF! Yeah it is cost effective! (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012749)

Yeah, Yeah, I already replied with the corrected math... I knew instantly upon hitting submit that the math nazi's would be on me like white on rice.

The thing is that even a 100 people per square mile is no big deal in even the smallest one-horse towns. Also you have to realize these numbers include the initial costs as well as maintenance, and they only projected it over 5 years because after that the costs drop off significantly. In any network the initial costs are high and then go to almost nil.

Re:WTF! Yeah it is cost effective! (2, Interesting)

Eslyjah (245320) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012902)

Rainstorm, besides the math error you've already acknowledged, I think you're making one other error. My internet access is $40/month also (for 4mbps down). Five years from now, I expect the private sector to provide much cheaper and faster internet access than that.

Let's say 10 years ago most people were on 56kbps dial-up for $20/month. By my calculations, that's about 36 times more expensive ($/bps) than my service today. Taking the square root of 36 (because we are projecting five years out instead of ten), and projecting a price-performance trajectory at the same rate, I expect that prices will be 6 times cheaper five years from now. By that, I mean that either you will be able to get 24mbps service for $40/month, or you will be able to 4mbps service for $6.67/month, or some other configuration that is just as cheap per bps.

$25/month five years from now does not appear to me to be the bargain you think it is when compared to the private sector. And this assumes a heavily regulated telecom industry! If we took the shackles off of the smaller players, we could see some stiff competition and genuine innovation that might push prices for consumers down even further.

To what end? (4, Insightful)

Eric S. Smith (162) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012557)

JupiterResearch claims that muni WiFi costs outweigh benefits. ... They suggest that such projects only be taken on as public-private partnerships.

I love this reasoning. "It's too expensive to be worthwhile, so please pay a private firm to do it."

$25/month a deal! (1)

standards (461431) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012572)

It costs me over $50/month for a broadband internet connection from Comcast. If someone offered me a reasonably similar connection for $30/month, I'd jump at it.

Re:$25/month a deal! (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012657)

Hmm./. ya'd think so right?

I have at home comcast, at work location one comcast, and work location two verizon dsl.. (residentail class) it's prone to erratic drop outs, it seems at time to be weather/damp related but it doesn't matter, verizon REFUSES to come on site and test the line.
they 'test it' and a few hours/maybe day later the automated recording calls to notify me that everything is clear on the line.

let me tell you, it's not.

the one time my line dropped inexplicably from comcast (tv cable & internet together) they roll a truck pretty damn quickly, and I'm not near the CO. with DSL- you know I'm within a distance from the CO measured in thousands of feet, and they won't come....

I agree about private corporations being involved (4, Interesting)

VolciMaster (821873) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012609)

I personally believe that anything that can be done via private companies and competition is better than the government getting involved. Obvious exceptions to this include things like roads.

In the case of municipal WiFi, there are a huge number of public or semi-public hotspots all over major cities. The local governments would have to be offering a really good deal to make this beneficial to everyone. And if this is really a government service, though, one presumes it would be paid for via taxes of some kind. It would be better if the city got involved in helping private companies find places to put access points, perhaps providing some measure of physical security to those locations, for a fixed amount per location per month (let's say it's $3 per AP per month with a minimum of 1000 APs to cover a decent area). The company could then use some kind of authentication mechanism to make sure people connecting had paid for its service (maybe $25/mo).

The university I attend is modifying its wireless network to broadcast two seperate SSIDs - one that authenicated users (ie students, staff, faculty) can use (and is firewalled, etc) and a second that is wide open for anyone to use, but has no security whatsoever. Non-authenticated users could use a lower speed, and unsecured, version of the network (throttled back to a max of say 802.11b), while the paying subscribers would be able to use the higher available bandwidth (802.11a/g). This would allow people in lower income areas to still use the internet, but people who wanted more speed could pay for it.

Of course, with the new precedent set in Tampa Bay FL [] , how would municipalities actually be able to act on people using the network for illegal activity? (I personally think that it's the user's responsibility to not do anything illegal, but heaven help you if you believe in personal responsibility in America.)

Such muni WiFi projects could also impact other types of internet subscriptions (especially dial-up), and might be viewed as very anti-competitive to local, traditional ISPs.

Re:I agree about private corporations being involv (1)

rutherfordium (898061) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012760)

I don't think that governments (municipal, state, provincial or any other) need to go into the ISP business at taxpayers expense. Private hotspots at your local starbucks is one thing, but to have a publicly-owned net available to one and all in a single local net seems to me to be an invitation for trouble. Having secretaries browing the web on their laptops (filled with corporate data of course) having their yogurt outside during lunch hour while the 15-year-old script-kiddie thrity feet away probing for any open ports available for (mis)use. Private companies are the way to go, subscription-based with authentication and have a day-pass or week-pass available for purchase for people passing through town want access.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits (1)

already_gone (848753) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012644)

as there are none.

fortunately there's an 'army' of angels, coming yOUR way

do not be afraid/dismayed, it is the way it was meant to be. the only way out is up.

the little ones/innocents must/will be protected.

after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit?

for each of the creators' innocents harmed, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available.

beware the illusionary smoke&mirrors.con

all is not lost/forgotten.

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vote with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

we still haven't read (here) about the 2/3'rds of you kids who are investigating/pursuing a spiritual/conscience/concious re-awakening, in amongst the 'stuff that matters'? another big surprise?

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the corepirate nazi life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

The report and the press release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13012646)

Does someone have a copy of the report? I can only find the press release.

Being in a position to pursue municipal wifi, I'd like to study the report to see if it is correct.

Does anyone know who paid for the study and subsequent report?

umm... cellular? (1)

dalutong (260603) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012689)

There are already services that provide broadband speeds for 80 dollars/month on a pcmcia card. Couldn't the city have a contract with a company that provides this? Then they could workout whatever details they want (i.e. have a subsidized rate.)

Or you could have a private company put in the infrastructure and get a monopoly for X number of years with the city paying a subsidized rate until X years is over when the city takes over.

seems like there are lots of options...

alternatives (1)

cyberbob2010 (312049) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012694)

seeing as how the only high speed alternative in my area is a motorolla canopy service which is over 400 dollars for the equipment and then 59 bucks a month for the mediocre service - 80 bucks a month for the good 1 meg down 512k up I'd gladly pay 25, hell - 30 or 40 bucks a month for community wireless.
I live in a small township of a village and we don't even have cable or dsl out here.

even at their estimated 100 people/mile it would still prove to be cheaper than any other high speed alternative the residents of my area (grafton township) have at their disposal

All about density (2, Insightful)

wenzi (6465) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012696)

The report talks about costs per square mile. But those costs rely on the population density.

If you look at certain parts of Tokyo and Taiwan, you have some of the most densely populated areas with high rates of broadband usage in the world.

Maybe cities should not be building WiFi networks covering corn fields in Illinois, but they certainly make sense for place like Tokyo , Taipei, New York and Bombay.

Ask Hugo, Colorado... (5, Interesting)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012703)

...or any of several small communities in this state if they'd prefer an inefficient WiFi network to no broadband at all.

Qwest has the DSL rights in Colorado pretty well locked up, and simply won't give service in the rural towns until it's damn good and ready..and that won't be anytime soon, because it hasn't even finished wiring Denver yet. Meanwhile, it's lobbying for a state law to ensure that its monopoly will continue to await Qwest's whim.


Costs outweigh benefits? (3, Insightful)

anothy (83176) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012771)

let's take the $150,000-over-5-years and $25/month-per-user benefit numbers at face value (ignoring the comments of earlier users in here). somebody check my math:
$25/month = $300/year = $1,500 over 5 years
1500 * 100 = 150000

so they just need to get 100 users per square mile to break even, given these assumptions? am i the only one who finds these numbers to be a tremendous argument for benefits outweighing costs? add to this the fact that most people are paying more than $25/month for internet access, and i think that's exactly what this shows.

Math doesn't add up. (5, Insightful)

MarvinMouse (323641) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012774)

150,000 per square mile over 5 years.

so that works out to 150,000/5 years/12 months = 2500 per square mile per month.

Which means that if you have 100 users in a square mile, which is far more than reasonable, you will be getting equivalent costs to benefits.

Let's say I misunderstood it, and it was 150,000 per square mile per year over 5 years. So then it would be 150,000/12 = 12500 ~ 500 users would be needed, again, really small number for a large city.

Finally, let's say I'm completely wrong and that 150,000 is per month. Then it would require 6000 users for there to be benefit. Which in a city like New York or San Francisco, is far more than reasonable.

Unless, of course, Jupiter is stating something way off, their math makes no sense at all. The cost they are giving is way more than reasonable for the benefits to the general population.

Re:Math doesn't add up. - Exactly (1)

heller (4484) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012986)

reverse logic (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012821)

They suggest that such projects only be taken on as public-private partnerships.

A well-managed public service will always be more cost-effective than the same service provided by a well-managed private operation, because there's no profits being taken out before the bottom line. That's basic math.

The trick of course is getting the public service to be well-managed, but that's mostly just a matter of political will. The local Chamber of Commerce will of course pooh-pooh the very notion and sometimes even stand in the way of it, because their interest is in creating niches for private businesses to exploit instead. And of course employees (especially if organized) will try to get as much out of it as possible as well. The government just needs to show some backbone and do it right, regardless.

The only reason a private entity truly needs to be involved is if investors are needed for the capital, and the government doesn't have the means to raise it through bonds or taxes. Otherwise, let the public sector hire the same people to do the same job at the same salary/wages the private company would have hired them at. If the argument is ideological (that government shouldn't do this sort of thing) that's another matter, but if it's a question of accounting, the advantage is to the fully-public approach.

Public/Private Middle Ground? (1)

LeDopore (898286) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012947)

There's been a lot of worry about public/provate partnerships, but I think there's a middle ground: have bonded lowest-bid private companies build publically owned services as they are needed.

Private companies are better than the public sector at two things: efficiency and providing specific services people want.

However, private/public partnerships don't always benefit from the private side. If the public sector just payed a contractor a lump sum to provide service X, the cost may not be optimal, and service X may not be what's needed.

How about a setup like this:
1) Have people in a local area agree that if a certain level of service were available to them, they'd be willing to pay some amount for it. Let them name their own price.
2) Provide public companies with data on which services are needed where, and how much people are willing to pay for them.
3) As more people get interested in public wireless, and as tech costs come down, eventually a wireless company will take a contract to ensure people get the service they asked for in 1).

Bonding the companies so they are financially accountable is important. Also it would be good to enforce a spec for the fiber optic backbone of the wireless network which could accomodate future expansion.


1) Market driven pricing
2) Users get to choose the level of service they want
3) No new taxes


1) Holes in coverage until the whole city is onboard
2) Inertia

What do you folks think?

Cost don't even take security into consideration (1) (898146) | more than 9 years ago | (#13012966)

Wireless Security or lack of it isn't even being mentioned. That is where the big cost will come from. This will be a breading grounds for hackers and like minded people trying to steal info for identity theaft.
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