Not all muni wi-fi experiments are failing, but some rather important ones seem to be in serious trouble. EarthLink is abandoning the Philadelphia wifi network, which so many people placed great faith in 3 years ago. And MetroFi is selling muni Wi-Fi networks in Portland and other cities. I’ve been reading some stories and commentaries about what’s gone wrong, but I’d be interested in hearing others offer up their thoughts here. Here are a few general explanations that I’ve culled from these reports for you to build on, or just offer your own:
1. Wrong technology: Need to wait for WiMax or something more efficient (scalable) than WiFi.
2. Lack of demand, Part 1: Existing broadband providers are filling whatever need is out there.
3. Lack of demand, Part 2: Just not as many people want broadband as policymakers think.
4. Lack of investment or competence, Part 1: The private contractors didn’t know what they were doing or just didn’t invest the necessary resources.
5. Lack of investment or competence, Part 2: The local government didn’t know what they were doing or just didn’t have the heart in it.
6. Lack of awareness: Municipalities and corporate partners failed to promote the benefits of the systems.
7. Private machinations: It’s a conspiracy by private interests to quash the competition!
8. Wait, they’re not failing: We just need to give them more time to pan out.