Om Malik writes about how low costs and high bandwidth are bringing back broadband wireless: You'll probably see a lot of articles in the next 12 months that lack the back story to broadband wireless, which Malik's piece contains. Broadband wireless isn't new: in fact, I was corresponding yesterday with Brett Glass, a founder of Lariat.org in Wyoming, which was operating 2 Mbps WaveLAN gear in 1993.
In the late 90s, several major telcos invested heavily in licensed-spectrum wireless broadband, buying up licenses in the educational/institutional MMDS/ITU band (2.5 GHz). Congress had authorized holders of geographic licenses in these bands -- holders that included hospitals, schools, etc. -- to sublicense these broadcasting/distance learning/misc. services frequencies to commercial users.
Sprint and Worldcom bought up practically all of the MMDS licenses -- Sprint spent a billion on them -- and AT&T used a much higher but licensed band above 10 GHz. None of these operations succeeded because they were using proprietary technology on frequencies that only they could use! Manufacturers were pumping out ever cheaper, lower-powered Wi-Fi and other spread-spectrum gear while the licensed broadband folks saw their costs stay the same. If you're the only customer (or maybe there's two), there's no much competition.
Ultimately, broadband wireless by the big boys died, and Om Malik's article traces the resurgence. There are several hundred broadband wireless ISPs in the U.S. -- one source says 1,800, but I think that's a count of cities in which the service is offered, not unique firms. And that's mostly the mom and pops.
Malik documents both the growth in firms offering to-the-curb/final-mile service, and also the T-1 and higher replacement companies that can bring in tens of megabytes per second of quality service in a few days. One of the key benefits to broadband wireless is that it can be instantaneous. Once you have the tower secured and fiber or high-speed lines running to it, the line of sight is your oyster as an operator.