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 Thursday, March 13, 2008

In 2004, there were only 520 square miles of networked municipal Wi-Fi. However, ABI Research forecasts a nearly sixty-fold increase over the next several years, to more than 30,000 square miles. Varying levels of maturity and acceptance exist within this market, spread across global regions and individual countries. The following is a snapshot of some major variations, according to recent analysis from ABI Research:

  • North America: Leads in deployments; but in many cases, the region employs the wrong business plan of free consumer access and free infrastructure; consolidating incumbent service providers view municipal Wi-Fi as a competitive threat.
  • Europe: Mobile-oriented rather than PC-oriented; incumbents initially resisted municipal Wi-Fi but now recognize in-building limitations and are incorporating it within service bundles for nomadic broadband Internet access, or as a way to compete out-of-region.
  • Asia-Pacific: Status varies widely, but rapid uptake in advanced countries such as South Korea is resulting in innovative applications and the development of new end-user devices to leverage municipal Wi-Fi.
  • Emerging Regions: Equipment costs remains prohibitive; there is interest in the technology, but compared with more basic services such as electricity, funding is a challenge; these regions are likely to be late adopters.
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Source: Newsletter Analyst Insider from ABI Research.