ABI Research forecasts that the total global area covered by municipal Wi-Fi will expand nearly sixty-fold from 520 square miles in 2004 to 30,000 square miles in 2012.
The analyst firm said that the US leads in municipal Wi-Fi deployments, but that Canada, Japan, South Korea and Western Europe are rapidly expanding municipal Wi-Fi infrastructure and applications.
Varying levels of maturity and acceptance exist within the market, spread across global regions and individual countries.
ABI believes that the US employs the wrong business plan of free consumer access and free infrastructure, and that incumbent service providers view municipal Wi-Fi as a competitive threat.
In Europe, mobile-oriented rather than PC-oriented incumbents initially resisted municipal Wi-Fi but now recognise in-building limitations.
Stan Schatt, vice president and research director at ABI Research, highlighted key financial benefits that should be included in the municipal Wi-Fi business case.
"Wireless surveillance systems, for example, will provide financial returns by helping prevent possible terrorist attacks, decreasing overall crime, improving traffic flow, and even boosting tourism by creating stable communities," he said.
Once the technology, business and cost issues are resolved, however, Schatt predicts that nations will benefit from this simple and low-cost broadband internet access technology, consequently broadening the range of networked services.
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