Bonewald (MuniWireless) / Ante / MacKinnon / Vos
(This turned out to be a difficult presentation to track. Maybe I’m tired.)
Ante: U.S. is largest market for broadband access, but we’re lagging behind in many ways.
Vos: Cost of municipal wifi underestimated in most cases.
MacKinnon: Created a model in Austin where every node had to find a way to cover its own cost. (Resistant to disaster or political crisis.) As a result if one goes bankrupt, the rest will be OK.
Bonewald: It’s not a technology problem, it’s a business model problem.
Q: Can you describe a model in another country, and can what can we steal from them?
Vos: Proposal in EU government to open up broadband to other companies… Structural separation. Different companies providing service and infrastructure.
MacKinnon: Montreal, Berlin (mesh networking), Barcelona. Spain has a nationalized phone system that hasn’t trenched the rural areas. Responded by basically building a giant wireless LAN.
Bonewald: Getting people addicted to using wifi is a key component to getting a network going.
Q from Audience: What about partnering with YellowPages business?
MacKinnon: Great idea. Good to go after local weekly, ad-supported ads as well. Compelling value proposition to say “we’ll also run your ad on hotspots all over the city.”
Q: Structural separation sounds like the way to go. Is there any serious supporters for that in the United States.
Vos: The moment a politician breathes the word “structural separation,” they stop getting money from the telcoms.
Q: What didn’t work in Philly? In Mountain View, Google provides wifi, so can you speak to that.
Vos: Earthlink decided to get out of muni wifi. Philly also had a lot cost overruns.
MacKinnon: If any wifi network has the chance to use ads to support itself, one run by Google is it. Austin’s ad rate is $200 per month (that’s $1 per hot spot)… And Austin has the largest network like it in the nation.
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