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These range from downtown hotzones to city- and county-wide wireless broadband networks. The REASON of providing Muni based broadband projects is to provide: affordable, fast, universal access to the Internet - WHEN private sector competition isn't getting "the job done" for whatever reason - usually phone companies don't find it profitable providing broadband service is sparsely populated rural areas, for instance.
They can be completely owned & operated by the community - such as a public water utility. As opposed to a completely private sector broadband deployment - like your local phone company's DSL service offered on their private network of copper lines.
Or, they can be owned in tandem or operations be subcontracted to a private entity, many times the local Wireless ISP. This is a similar arrangement as to how communities license out service rights to the Cable TV/Internet companies around the company (the business structure - NOT the operational part).
There are also Fiber Optical based "Muni Broadband Projects," of which UTOPIA in the state of Utah is a prime example. But it is many time more expensive to run Fiber Optics to each & every premise (FTTP Fiber to the Premise), so often times these community-based projects are a hibrid network of Fiber Optics that "ring" around the city, with wireless "access points" placed strategically throughout the area on top of towers, buildings & telephonepoles, and blankets the enter region with RF (radio frequency) signal. This is known as a "Metrowide Hotzone." This in comparison to the popular Wi-Fi Hotspots, which typically provides wireless connectivity with a maximum range of 300 feet.
Effectively, it allows people to "seamlessly roam" throughout their community while still being able to be connected to the Internet. As the Webmaster & Tech Support for one of the original Wireless ISPs (WISPs) in 1997, we were able to travel in a car throughout ur coverage area & remained conneted wirelessly with T1 speeds, while going 70 miles per hour (it probably would have also worked faster than the legal local speed limit).
AND here's where an ENTIRELY new & exciting realm of advertsing possibilities open up... and which I'm sure Google is contemplateing. Imaging taking a "roadtrip" vacation, and you are miles from home in an unfamiliar town and are hungry, all you have to do (in the not too distant future) is say something like this: "Computer, what's are some ideas for lunch today?"
Then the computer would log on wirelessly to the local Wi-Fi Network (it probably was always connected in "the background") and search for all the local restaurants that advertise their lunch menus on the Net (or Google AdSense), and start listing the various lunch options available - whether visiually on monitor screen OR audibly via v text to voice software, OR since it is a MOBILE, WIRELESS CONNECTION... perhaps provide short VIDEO commercials for each restaurant... AND once you make a decision, you could place your order in advance from your car still on the road, via VIDEOPHONE with the restaurant;s service personnel, who will start working on the meal and cut down on the time you have to wait for your meal to be served. This will allow travellers to get back on the road quickly, thus cutting down on travel time to their destinations.
Future applications potential is beyond comprehension... and so is commercial opportunity!
Broadband bandwidth has BIG revenue margins for the Telcos... long been a point of contention with WISPs are intent on providing te public with AFFORDABLE Broadband connectivity!
FOOLISH Investors & Wall Steet are way too short-sighted looking for instant gratification in the stock markets... SMART companies have long goal strategy and pay no heed to momentary headwinds and temporary problems!
We used to comend Japanese Corporations for having such ambitious business strategies... yet when Google diplays the same creativity to evolve technology and corporate thinking, they stock gets hammered...
Google wants to buy, whereas the telecom companies already own it. Who can sell or lease it cheaper?
If Google starts reselling the Dark Fiber - (probably are NOT allowed) OR more likely using the low cost bandwidth as leverage to acquire Municipal Newtork Partnerships... It forces the Telcos to LOWER their pricing for wholesale bandwidth... Just like competition from Cable Companies & Wireless ISPs helped to make the phone companies lower their charges for DSL (where there is adequate competition)...
Competition is GOOD for the Consumer... it is in areas where there is a LACK of competition where the consumer gets raped.
Local advertising will become HUGE when the locational capabilities of wi-fi/wireless/GPS are taken advantage of and pertinent ads can be served up to mobile users in close proximity based on GPS coordinates...