SPOTLIGHT: A successful muni-WiFi

As observed earlier, there is a groundswell of community networks, or muni-WiFi, around the world. No surprise there. We live in a digital age in which access to information, for business or personal benefit, using whatever form of technology available, is expected by many in the community. Most of the announcements of yet another wireless network covering a city district revolve around flooding an area with WiFi coverage and the lure of more widely available connectivity, with a mixture of free and paid-for services offered over the network. These typically must then involve some kind of public/private partnership with institutional bodies working alongside commercial suppliers. If any of these developments are to be long-term successes, the needs of each of several groups must be met: the public sector (typically local government), the commercial technology suppliers and the end users or consumers of services. Even public-private partnerships for social gain must have hard-nosed business value. The real challenge in this complex process is to ensure that the total value of all services, whether commercial, social, or political, is measured and taken into account. Discussion