Out of almost 200 cities in the United States that have
deployed public Wi-Fi networks, less than half have actually fulfilled their
goal of providing citywide service. According to MuniWireless, a firm that tracks Wi-Fi industry
trends, political infighting and technical hurdles have presented
the biggest barriers to broad deployment of municipal wireless networks in
While only 44 percent of existing municipal networks have
succeeded in rolling out service to their entire community, 32 percent offer only
limited hotspot availability and about 20 percent are only available for use by
local government employees.
San Francisco's proposed citywide Wi-Fi network has remained
on hold for more than two years. The fate of the network, to be installed by
Google and Internet service provider Earthlink, will next be discussed at an
upcoming July hearing before the city's board of supervisors. The board and the
city's mayor have been at odds over the project since its inception.
The nation's most ambitious municipal Wi-Fi project, called
Wireless Philadelphia, has fallen far behind schedule because of a series of
redesigns and disputes with the local power company over plans to place
antennas on utility poles. The network was originally due for completion in
2006, but that has now been extended to the end of 2007.