Best Practices in Community Wireless 2015

The Best Practices in Community Wireless 2015 is now available for download from Freedman Consulting LLC. The report, developed by Freedman Consulting, with support from the Ford Foundation, highlights 11 communities in the United States that have deployed community wireless networks to achieve different goals.

The report examines the evolution of wireless technology and explores lessons learned by communities that have implemented these networks. The 11 communities are Boston (MA), Corpus Christi (TX), Minneapolis (MN), Oklahoma City (OK), Ponca City (OK), Port Angeles (WA), Richmond (CA), San Francisco (CA), San Jose (CA), Santa Clara (CA) and Santa Monica (CA).

The networks vary in size, usage and business model. In some cases they are used only for municipal purposes; in others, the public and the municipality use the network. Those of you who are familiar with the articles on MuniWireless over the years will recognize many of these networks, their triumphs and travails. Much of the material in this report updates the older articles on MuniWireless.


According to the report, the community wireless networks and resulting best practices profiled were chosen based on “wider perceptions of their success by external experts, referrals by stakeholders from each community, and the degree of their diversity in business model, geography, and uses.”

Research for the project included:

(1) Interviews: discussions with city officials in each of the 11 communities shed light on that city’s experience and resulting best practices.

(2) Document Review: relevant internal and public documents regarding each community’s wireless network were shared and reviewed.

(3) Media Review: recent news articles regarding community wireless for each network were identified and reviewed.


  1. Hooray for this report. Now that the heavy lifting has been done in big cities in working out the technologies and business purposes and models that cities can evaluate — what remains is to apply the same things to the plethora of smaller cities. With the rapid development of disruptive technologies at remarkably lower price points, the technologies used in these big cities will now scale down to manageable levels in lots of places.

    Where are models for the hundreds of little towns to follow, or where are the innovators to go and study for a modern, extensible, speedy Internet without going looking for outside money?

    And — where can small places purchase the Internet access and backhaul in 1-10Gbit range at competitive prices?

    Most towns have enough local expertise and/or potential vendors to do the rest — if there were a more open and competitive market place for Internet connection?

    I live in a <1000 town that has a minimum cost for Internet from incumbents in the range of more than $50/mo for considerably less bandwidth than today's new 'broadband' definition. Only if I move to larger MN city is a service/price like that available. Bah humbug.. .

    I think it is becoming possible for the really small towns to do it… with today's equipment and software and community involvement. We just have to work out the models and maybe get a few legislators to see the need.


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