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Dec 22nd, 2016 | By | Category: Tracking Fast Fact

Municipal broadband deployments are broadband Internet access services provided by local governments, either fully or partially.

Published on Sep 15, 2010 by Roy Avila

Common connection technologies include unlicensed wireless (Wi-Fi, wireless mesh network), licensed wireless (such as WiMAX), and Fiber-optic. Although many cities previously deployed Wi-Fi based solutions, municipal fiber-to-the-home networks are becoming more prominent because of the increased demand for modern audio and video applications, which are increasing bandwidth requirements by an order of magnitude every two years.

Rather than using the sometimes unreliable hub and spoke model of distribution, most municipal broadband networks use mesh networking. A series of radio transmitters throughout a city, with each transmitter connected to at least two other transmitters, relay radio signals through the whole city. This allows for a reliable connection for users. Mesh networks are also faster to build and less expensive to run than the hub and spoke model.

Two basic models for funding Wi-Fi networks have emerged. A city will either use tax money to pay for the service or find an outside company to provide the service, with the understanding that the company will have control of the network in exchange for build-out and maintenance.

There are existing providers who offer network infrastructure; the city installs dark fiber and several hundred service providers lit the fiber and provided one service or another. Others alike provide service at one network layer higher, creating a lit fiber network, the capacity of which it is wholesaling to four service providers that provide retail service in the market. A final model is to provide all layers of service, such as where the city has built and is operating a Wi-Fi Internet network and is providing email and web hosting applications. These various models involve different public-private partnership arrangements and distinctive levels of opportunity for private sector competition.

A few US states have banned municipal broadband. Some states have restricted it, and other states have regulated it (requiring prudent business plans and studies). Back in 2007, three bills were pending before the US Congress that touch on the issue; one would affirm municipal broadband, one would restrict it, and one would prohibit it.

Some incumbent telecommunications and cable companies complain that government competition is unfair while others have viewed it as an opportunity to expand their market. Other organizations such as Free Press, the Media Access Project, and the ACLU has come out in favor of municipal broadband.

The reconstruction of New Orleans was the impetus to build a metro-scale wireless broadband network to provide free public Internet service, and it also provided needed communications for government and emergency services. Bell South threatened the city with legal action if the New Orleans municipal network were continued to be run by the city. Consequently, the network was bought by an outside company.

References and Credits: Wikipedia

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