Robert, you mentioned studies showing the cost of installing municipal wifi. Do you have any links? My searches have been hit and miss, but I did find this brief article from Kankakee, IL, but with no cost numbers.
Marginal cost is zero. Elementary economics teaches that all goods distributed at zero marginal cost are natural monopolies. Capital costs are huge.
Sun 2 Jan, 2011 11:06 pm
Here is a pdf of the study I cited claiming a cost of $150,000/square mile. That was back in 2005, and I think that advances to wireless protocols (things like WIMAX, which has been deployed citywide in places like Perth, sound to me like a more appropriate protocol to build municipal wifi on) and economy of scale can bring that down, but even then the figure was disputed by Tropos Networks, who said their costs are substantially less than that per square mile.
Hmm, I'm reading more about it (I missed the State of the Union, which this idea evidently was in), "in reach" doesn't seem to have much to do with the cost, just making it more available to more people (they'd still have to pay for it).