The LA Times exposes the soft underbelly of metro-scale Wi-Fi (free reg. req.): I've written about utility poles several times before, in that they are the weak link in wireless operators' ability to deploy Wi-Fi or other nodes rapidly. Even if a city or municipality owns the poles or controls the entity that does, they may not operate power to the poles. In this interesting piece in the LA Times, it becomes clear that we're seeing few Southern California municipal Wi-Fi projects because of obstruction by Southern California Edison Company.
Edison has requests a year old for pole access that they haven't acted on. The reporter, James Granelli, notes West Hollywood abandoned Wi-Fi plans, Santa Clarita has been waiting six months for a response, and Cerritos--hailed at one point as a major first unwired city--has only put Wi-Fi in a third of the city's area due to Edison.
In the city of Diamond Bar, officials might use eminent domain to seize one foot of pole access. They're tired of Edison providing no process or timeline. The company claims it needs to test the service, which the reporter notes draw about "two nightlights' worth of power." I might peg that higher--more like the wattage of a reading lamp lightbulb.
In any case, Edison's utility neighbor to the north, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has no worries. They've set up a flat rate for electrical use and signed contracts left and right. A spokesmen from the company says in the article, "The antennas are low-wattage devices, so even with street lights fully powered, the existing wiring can easily handle the added electric draw. They also have a consistent energy draw, so it's easy to estimate usage."
Edison has suggested that companies might pay cellular mounting rates of $2,000 per month versus the $36/year that operator MetroFi pays elsewhere. Cellular equipment can draw huge amounts of power, in direct contrast to Wi-Fi nodes, and require backhaul connections and other specialized gear. They also have a large revenue profile, and often pay high amounts to building owners and others for specific siting.