Europe Leads the U.S. (Again), This Time in Muni Wi-Fi

Opinion: Municipal broadband and wireless services in Europe have fostered competition there, says Esme Vos, a U.S. citizen who lives in Amsterdam and is lobbying for municipal Wi-Fi in the U.S.

Esme Vos, who runs, recently wrote with her perspectives on how municipal wireless deployments have fostered increased competition, lower rates and enhanced services in the European broadband market. Here is her letter:

One of the reasons I am very keen on seeing more municipal deployments is that finally there is one entity that can bring some competition in the market for broadband.

I live in Amsterdam, where there are so many broadband providers it would make your head spin. Not a month goes by without yet another provider lowering fees and increasing bandwidth. I pay about 50 EUR per month for 4Mbps downstream. I am in the U.S. quite often (I have dual citizenship and the only reason I live in Amsterdam is that my husband is Dutch) and am shocked to see how slow and expensive broadband is.

The only reason there is competition here is that the EU forced the Member States to open up their markets to competition. The Dutch regulatory authority tries to ensure that the incumbent, KPN, does not engage in acts of unfair competition. Result: What people pay for broadband is dropping dramatically and the bandwidth is increasing. You will find this trend all over the EU. Recently a provider here announced it would be offering 10Mbps+ service. This is already happening in France.


Read what readers have to say about municipal wireless.

The argument is that munis compete unfairly with private enterprise because munis have tax dollars to play with. Of course the incumbents dont say that they get subsidies from the government and dont mention that munis dont get into this activity unless they really have to.


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