I wrote a few days ago about BelAir's introduction of mesh Wi-Fi designed to plug into existing cable television wiring systems: Jim Thompson has more. Jim has worked in the Wi-Fi space nearly since its introduction, building out networks for Wayport in the 90s, heading up engineering efforts at Vivato's Spokane office, and building open-source network projects. He currently runs NetGate from his hardship-duty in Hawaii.
He sent in these remarks on how cable + Wi-Fi benefits MSOs (Multiple Systems Operators), or cable companies that own a number of networks. I'll urge readers to remember that these are Thompson's opinions, but that I generally share
1. No spectrum costs. WiMax in unlicensed spectrum is a joke. (City-wide 'mesh' using 802.11 is a joke for similar reasons.)
2. No backhaul interference issues. Want to guess at the native data rates available in DOCSIS 2.0 [the current dominant cable Internet standard]? Around 30Mbps upstream, and just under 40 Mbps downstream. A nice match for 802.11g.
3. Cable MSOs could offer city-wide "hot spot" service, cleaning the clock of any incumbent ISP. They could start where this makes the most sense, and build out from there.
4. Cable companies already own rights to the poles and building entrances. MSOs don't have to re-negotiate with the municipality, they don't have to lay new cable.
As Thompson notes, cable companies already possess rights--they already have franchise agreements. They already pay cities and towns tax based on their revenue and for rights of way. The Broadband over Powerline (BPL) market hasn't taken off as predicted partly because electrical utilities aren't ISPs and the have to build out a variety of infrastructure that's not in place. By contrast, cable companies are virtually all ISPs: they can pop radios in and start offering service. No real estate issues, no back-haul spectrum issues, no startup costs in building out ISP infrastructure for account handling and bandwidth.