10 Mar Waukesha considers wireless bids from three firms
Milwaukee, Wis. — Competition is heating up in Waukesha for the city’s nod to build a wireless network for residents.
Three firms want to build the infrastructure on city property such as light poles, then wholesale bandwidth to Internet service providers. After waiting several years for the winning company to recoup some costs, the city would start to receive royalties.
Midwest Fiber, the company building Milwaukee’s wireless network, is the latest entrant in Waukesha. It is competing with Cellnet, which is building Madison’s network and has also pitched Wauwatosa, and a business group composed of Waukesha businessman David Baraniak, Scientel Wireless and US Internet.
City officials have declined to give any of the providers an exclusive deal, and the city isn’t spending money on the network.
That’s consistent with Cellnet’s deal in Madison, in which the company is putting up all the money to build the network and will earn it back by leasing to Internet service providers. Users of these networks will pay for the service, unless they only want to view certain sites the city designates for free access.
It’s a business model that appears to be catching on in the wireless world.
Early in the push to bring wireless access to entire cities, Philadelphia faced intense lobbying against its plans to build a taxpayer-funded network from vendors such as Verizon, who said that was unfair competition. Just this month, Philadelphia inked a deal similar to those going on in Madison and Milwaukee, under which EarthLink will pay the city for the right to build wireless infrastructure and sell service.