The Wall Street Journal notes Cox, AT&T, Time-Warner are or may be involved in municipally initiated broadband projects: It's what those of us following this market have been saying for a couple of years. It's inevitable that with political and regulatory machinations failing and grass-roots support for municipally authorized--not funded--metropolitan area networks on the rise, that incumbents would figure out a way to drop their objections and cash in.
Of course, do you hire a firm like AT&T, which is quoted in the story that if governments are "looking to establish a Wi-Fi network like this [in Michigan], we're certainly willing to work with them, wherever it's a good fit to do so...This isn't something we're actively recommending to customers." Stunning business plan, that.
The article waits until quite late in its sequence to mention that city-scale networks now proposed rarely involve taxpayer dollars in the U.S. The reporter writes, "To be sure, both the phone and cable companies say what they have opposed is having to compete with publicly owned or operated services that have access to municipal subsidies or other advantages. They say they have been more open to having local governments facilitate projects by giving out contracts to companies, which is the tack municipalities are increasingly taking."
This "tack" dates back nearly a year prompted in large part by the fallout before Philadelphia released its formal plan to bid out city-scale broadband wireless.
Update: In perfect timing, Sprint Nextel's soon-to-be-spun-off local telecom division announced a Wi-Fi mesh network trial in Henderson, Nevada. Under the name Embarq, the company will create a network for city and public safety workers and the general public. It will be free during the trial period.
And BellSouth says it will consider WiMax for areas with damaged or slow networks. They expect a live network in late 2006.