I recently mentioned that the muni-WiFi business is bouncing back in many cities where network operators are working with more sensible business models. So it's interesting that one of today's top stories has to do with a Kansas City company, Computers and Tele-Comm (CTC), looking to resurrect a long-defunct muni-WiFi network in Tempe, Ariz. that never attracted enough customers to create a viable business model and was plagued with signal problems. The network went dark months ago, and the only evidence it existed are those ugly gray boxes and transmitters that sit on top of buildings throughout the city or on light poles.
CTC President and CEO Graeme Gibson explained that his company sees a bargain waiting for a buyer. Currently, the network is owned by the venture capital firm Commonwealth Capital. CTC is willing to spend some $1.3 million on the network and spend another $1.4 million to get the network going again.
"This is a million-dollar house that's on sale for $138,000," Gibson told the East Valley Tribune. CTC operates various WiFi networks in Kansas City and in Hilton and Hyatt hotels. Still, CTC wants concessions from the city, such as lowering rent on the city's light poles.
I wonder if the city will bite or turn down CTC's plan. Many cities are ready to move on from their muni-WiFi failures, but then again, they need to find some use for those boxes. In other words, they have hardware assets sitting around unused. Portland, which was abandoned by MetroFi, hasn't found another taker, and has some 600 WiFi antennas around the city that MetroFi has promised to take down but has yet to do. Could we actually see another round of companies coming in looking to resurrect muni-WiFi at a fraction of previous costs?--Lynnette