A watershed moment in the municipal wireless trend was this past summer’s report from JupiterResearch examining the costs of municipal wireless systems. Its estimate that the average cost of building and maintaining a municipal wireless network is $150,000 per square mile over five years was twice as much as what municipal wireless consultants had been saying. JupiterResearch further predicted that half the current municipal wireless systems would fail to break even. It advised communities to seek private industry partners, structure a deal from which the city itself could derive value from the network as a large user, and, pointedly, warned against the idea of building wireless systems for the sole reason of providing consumer broadband Internet access.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.