Trend: Cities look for free muni-WiFi

The muni-wireless market is just a few years old, but it looks like municipalities are starting to shake it up by pursuing free wireless service supported solely by advertising. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the deal between muni-WiFi provider MobilePro and the city of Sacramento fell through last year because the city heard about the deals between San Francisco and Google-Earthlink and Portland and MetroFi. These latest waves of muni-WiFi deals offer wireless services to San Francisco and Portland with "expanded free" access for some businesses and residents. MetroFi, Google and Earthlink plan to rely on local advertising embedded in their wireless service instead of the traditional user subscription fee-based model. Some say the new model could put the muni-WiFi pioneers like MobilePro, Strix and Tropos Networks at risk.

For more on the free muni-wireless trend:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)