Muniwireless.com notes the trend of cities negotiating contracts for broadband wireless without putting out bids: Napa, Calif., is the most recent example in a trend of several where the city just entered negotiations with a single provider which will offer the service; AT&T in this case. Carol Ellison writes that AT&T's rapid entry into the metro-scale Wi-Fi market is just one prong of the company's municipal package. They can offer everything in one bucket. AT&T told Ellison that they are obligated to wholesale access on the wireless network to other companies, although we've seen in the past what a requirement means to incumbent wireline operators.
Ellison notes that this is a great strategy for AT&T and its shareholders, but what about cities and residents? She thinks that an open process with competitive elements better suits taxpayers.