27/01/2006 by John Tilak
There are over 400 cities worldwide currently planning to deploy municipal broadband networks, and that number will double in 2006, making community broadband initiatives a very real and significant trend, according to a report from market research firm Visiongain.
Despite legal opposition and intense lobbying from incumbent telcos and cable companies, municipal broadband is well on its way. As of the first quarter of 2006, there are over 100 city and regional wireless broadband networks operational worldwide, more than 40 of which are in the US.
Small town rural deployments were the beginning of the wave, but the tide is now embracing large urban metropolises. New York, San Francisco, Rome and Paris are among the major cities planning wide-scale deployments. Major vendors, such as Motorola, Cisco, HP and IBM, are already reaping cumulative contract awards running into hundreds of millions of euros.
For a large number of reasons, municipalities are considering the concept of a municipal broadband network as the 'fifth utility.' These communities are choosing between deploying fibre or wireless broadband networks using wi-fi hotspots, mesh networks or pre-WiMAX technology.