Local paper taunts Tempe's failed muni-Fi effort: Symbolically, a display celebrating the kickoff the city-wide Wi-Fi network built by NeoReach-cum-Kite-cum-Gobility is falling apart in front of the mayor's office, the reporter notes. I have to add "stucco" to the list of quotidian problems that tripped up metro-scale Wi-Fi. In many parts of the U.S., stucco isn't in a homeowner's vocabulary. But in large swaths of sunny states, especially the southwest and southern California, homes are finished by slapping plaster on chicken wire and calling it good--it's got good insulation. Where wallboard over balloon wood frames doesn't really obstruct Wi-Fi, the chicken wire coupled with the density of the plaster is as effective as the water always present in brickwork in keeping signals out. I had this conversation recently about plaster with Rio Rancho's city manager, too.
The reporter notes other common threads of problems with metro-scale networks: lowballed budgets, which turned out to underestimate infrastructure costs (nodes, real-estate rights, utility pole issues), low demand, and weak signals inside homes. Tempe apparently had 1,000 subscribers at one point, in a city of 166,000 (2005 census estimate).
The articles states, "The upside is Tempe and other Valley cities didn't spend taxpayer dollars." Of course, as I've noted before, the idea with a wireless network should be to both conserve expenses and reduce them. "Taxpayer dollars" is a shibboleth of those who believe government can solve no ills. Those who believe that are typically also fine with government overspending by paying large companies as private contractors rather than working in a public/private partnership that reduces expenses and yet puts most dollars into the private sector--just in smaller firms.
Gilbert, Ariz., one of several Arizona cities that was contracted with Kite, reaches fifth stage of mourning, acceptance: Gobility, Kite's ostensibly current owner, hasn't communicated with the city in two months, and its elusive head wouldn't comment for this article in local paper. The city isn't too depressed.
Oklahoma City is OK with lack of Wi-Fi network for public access: They're pretty pleased with their large mesh network for emergency services.