The people involved in Muni Wi-Fi are all wet. From the manufacturers to the consultants who advised the cities to the city folks themselves. Talk about playing into the hands of the big telcos and cable operators.
Not a one figured that the cable guys could be their best friends and none of the efforts to really make it fly went on in places where broadband was severely hampered. Sure there are examples of good installs like Minneapolis and maybe Providence, R.I., but between Earthlinks' uneconomic models, city's not working with the cable operators who already have fiber in the ground and more, the Muni-WiFi jet has crashed and burned. What's more, most of the systems were built to go two stories up and about one room in, unless you added on some customer premise equipment (CPR) like the one from Rukus. Call it HOMELESS WIRELESS, for that's about the only type of folks who got the coverage nice and strong.
It's time for a new model. A Public WiFi model. Oh, and FON...I've been in Barcelona, Paris, Lyon and Madrid and darn if I can find an FON as I wander...For the next phase those who have a business opportunity will be the places where broadband has not yet really gone before, but that it can be taken easily.
UPDATE FROM APRIL 21--Seems my pal Glenn has another similar view on the realities of Muni WiFi.