Groningen, Netherlands deploys municipal wireless network

Groningen, Netherlands has hired Unwired Holding CV to deploy and manage a citywide wireless broadband network. The city center expects to be unwired by October 2009, with the entire city completed by 2010.

The foundation, Draadloos Groningen (Wireless Groningen), signed the agreement this week with Unwired Holding. The foundation’s members are the municipality of Groningen, the Hanzehogeschool Groningen, the University of Groningen and the University Medical Center, all of which will use the network for applications. Noorderpoort College and the Groningen police have also signed up to use the citywide network. Draadloos Groningen and Unwired Holding will begin selling access to the network to other governmental and commercial organizations, as well as to individuals.

Business model

Groningen follows the “anchor tenant” model whereby the anchor tenants (large organizations within a city) fund the network and use it for their own applications. The initial anchor tenants are the four members of the foundation, each of which are contributing 1 million EUR over a four-year period. This guarantees financial support for the network in its beginning phase and a commitment to use it for as many purposes as possible.

The Groningen model is similar to that in Minneapolis where the city is paying an annual fee of $1.25M to US Internet, the company hired to deploy and manage the network. This is also the model being implemented in Philadelphia and in other cities which have become disenchanted with the “private franchise” model (followed by EarthLink and MetroFi in Philadephia and Portland, respectively), which failed largely because the cities had no skin in the game.

Download the Groningen Business Plan (in Dutch only).

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  1. outstanding and visionary step into what must be the future of wireless communications, perhaps the smallish university town is an ideal starting point to begin and refine the technology and marketing/management of such systems.