Several Systems Studied

Published May 1, 2007

The municipal telecom systems selected for analysis in Wi-Fi Waste: The Disaster of Municipal Communications Networks, the Pacific Research Institute report by Sonia Arrison, Dr. Robert Rizzuto, and Vince Vasquez, were drawn primarily from two data sources.

The source for wireline systems was the American Public Power Association’s 2004-05 listing of “community broadband systems,” which identified 558 municipal telecom systems. The source for Wi-Fi networks was the March 2005 report, which listed 29 regional and citywide networks in the United States.

Three criteria were used in selecting wireline systems for inclusion in the study: They are competing or have previously competed against a private telecom service provider; they have been in operation for at least one year; and they have reported their financial performance separately from other municipal ventures, such as electric or water utilities. The same criteria were used in selecting the municipal WiFi systems, with the additional requirement that the system be municipally owned.

Of the 52 municipal telecom systems that met the criteria, 47 used wireline technology and five were WiFi. Twelve of the wireline systems offer a “triple play” of telecom services (voice, video, and data), while 35 offer only video and data services. Seven of the wireline systems use fiber-to-the-home technology; the rest use a hybrid fiber-coaxial cable platform.

Steven Titch