Thursday, February 23, 2006

Municipal wireless is like platform shoes

"Everything goes in buying cycles, because we forget how awful it was the last time around," says Ian Keene, analyst at Gartner, talking at NetEvents. "Like platform shoes.

"Maybe local governments are only building theirown wireless networks, because they've forgotten what a pain it is to own your own network. It's fifteen years since they owned their own cables. All those people have retired by now, so they think 'own our own networks? Great idea.'"

But he admits he might just be being negative. Wireless can be much easier to deploy. And there are some very useful applications, like CCTV (easy to move cameras around), environmental monitoring, and so forth.

But the big headline-grabbing application, Internet access, could be a flash in the pan, he says. Public access and regeneration are political issues, not driven by real user pull, he says: local governments are generally felt to be poor service deliverers, so will people use their metro networks? .

And the technology issues is a surprise too. There's a fixation on Wi-Fi, and Keene is surprised that few - in fact, he says absolutely no - local authorities are planning to use the operators' 3G networks for their own applications.

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