CAN CITYWIDE MUNICIPAL WIFI BE A FEASIBLE SOLUTION FOR LOCAL BROADBAND ACCESS IN THE US? AN EMPIRICAL EVALUATION OF A TECHNO-ECONOMIC MODEL
Citywide wireless fidelity (WiFi) offers an opportunity for municipalities and BISPs to break through the duopoly broadband market structure that is prevalent in the US. Although municipal WiFi offers low deployment cost, short building time, high capacity, and wide coverage, the competition from the local broadband market makes it difficult to be self-sustainable from public Internet access revenues. Therefore, it is interesting and useful not only to discuss the demographic features of existing WiFi projects but also to evaluate what is necessary for them to be economically sustainable. We propose to study these questions by building a techno-economic model to determine features, sustainability, and necessary subsidy of citywide WiFi for local broadband access. We evaluate this model with data from several existing projects.
In order to gain insight from previous experience and to evaluate the feasibility of citywide WiFi, we carried this research out in three steps. The first, we undertook a systematic study to analyze all existing and operating citywide WiFi projects in the US. We were interested in identifying what key geo-demographic differences exist between WiFi cities and non-WiFi cities, and how private ISPs and municipalities implemented citywide projects with various business models and strategies. Next, we built a model linking access point density and network coverage, and used this to build a techno-economic model of municipal WiFi. Finally, we evaluated the effectiveness of the model using existing projects identified in the empirical study and determined how much subsidy could be reasonable from municipality to make WiFi projects sustainable. The outcome of this research is designed to assist policy makers, municipalities, and WiFi ISPs in evaluating, designing and implementing a sustainable project.
Advisor:Prashant Krishnamurthy; Johannes M. Bauer; Richard A. Thompson; Martin B. H. Weiss; Christinger Tomer
School:University of Pittsburgh
School Location:USA - Pennsylvania
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:07/24/2008