The world's largest municipal WiFi network is falling short of expectations. More than a year ago, the city of Taipei in Taiwan launched a city-wide WiFi system in a bid to create a "cyber city," but the number of subscribers is less than anticipated. Subscribers have been stymied by perceived performance issues, competition from free WiFi services and a lack of applications. According to statistics from Q-Ware--the company hired to build and operate the network--an average of 20,000 monthly subscribers paying $12 a month have signed up for the service while about 10,000 subscribers use the service with daily, weekly or monthly one-time subscriptions. The take rate is significantly below the initial projections of 250,000 overall average users that was expected by the end of 2006. It's estimated that about 200,000 average users are needed to break even.
It's another realization that the business case for muni-WiFi networks doesn't revolve around offering Web access to constituents. Rather the emerging successful muni-WiFi plans center on creating greater cost savings for cities.
To read more about Taipei's network issues:
- check out this article from the San Francisco Chronicle