One year after the launch of St. Cloud’s citywide Wi-Fi network, 77% of residents have registered for the city’s free wireless broadband service and are staying online for 3.5 hours on the average. St. Cloud, Florida’s network has received so much press because it is one of the few city-funded, city-owned networks in the US and it provides free Internet access to residents and businesses. Although the city owns the network, it has outsourced operations and maintenance to HP.
Jonathan Baltuch, founder of MRI, the consultant to the city, says:
Another by-product of this effort is that the city collected a comprehensive database of real world statistics and system information on the network.
Indeed, those who say that a municipally owned broadband network can never deliver good service are simply wrong. Many of the critics of municipally owned broadband mischaracterize the networks as being run by city employees who have no experience in delivering broadband service. In reality, most cities that fund and own the network, outsource the deployment, operations and maintenance to private companies. St. Cloud’s partner is HP.
At the end of 2006, Novarum, an independent wireless testing company, surveyed cellular and Wi-Fi broadband networks across the US. They ranked St. Cloud’s network no. 1 (and the only one with 100% service availability) ahead of Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, Earthlink and many others.
(1) Total number of registered households: 8,492 (77.2% of the city)
– total number of individual users (2): 20,0008
(2) Average number of users per household: 2.09
(3) Average number of devices per household: 1.38
(4) Maximum number of simultaneous users: 2040 (24% of households)
(5) Total number of individual sessions: 1,322,109
(6) Total hours logged on by users: 4,627,381
(7) Total megabits of information transferred: 25,617,918
(8) Ave session length: 3.5 hours
(a) From the end of month 1 to the end of month 12, the Megabits of information transferred by users has increased by 470%
(b) Average monthly growth rate of subscribers in year 1: 26.1%
(c) Average monthly fee previously paid per household by residents for Internet access: $36.47
(d) Estimated currently available annual savings to the residents of St. Cloud: $3,724,754
UPDATE: In response to questions about how they calculated the number of registered households, here’s the formula:
Total number of devices registered: 14,198
Minus system reset in first month: 1,000
(note: in the first two weeks of operations the registration system was reset and the database of approx 1,000 users was wiped out. It is assumed that they re-registered and would show up twice in the total number
Total number of unique devices registered: 13,198
Minus business users: 805
(6.1% based on user survey data)
Minus visiting users: 674
(4.9% based on user survey data)
Total number of residential devices: 11,719
Total number of registered households: 8,492
(the user survey determined an average of 1.38 devices per household)
This gives the percentage of homes registered (or homes passed) as 77% based on a total of 11,000 homes in St. Cloud.