City-Wide Wi-Fi Network Expansion Predicted

The latest research from analysts at Datamonitor has predicted a strong expansion in the number of city-wide broadband wireless (Wi-Fi) networks. Spending on related UK and USA networks is expected to jump from $900m (£439m) this year to $6.4bn in 2012:

In the UK, Milton Keynes and Norfolk have both launched blanket Wi-Fi networks. Norfolk fired up its community network — called "Norfolk Open Link" — back in August of last year, with the aim of improving access to information and providing opportunities for more flexible and mobile working.

Milton Keynes also launched a Wi-Fi network in its city centre last August. More recently, a free wireless network was switched on along a 22km stretch of the River Thames in London.

According to Datamonitor, municipal Wi-Fi can help local governments deliver on efficiency targets by lowering communications costs, facilitating mobile working and enabling the emergency services to have on-the-spot access to information.

But, said the analyst, different regions inevitably have different priorities in mind for a wireless blanket, whether it's expanding internet access to more disadvantaged citizens or attracting new businesses to their area. Therefore, there are a range of business models in play.

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