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A Mixed Outlook for Municipal Wi-Fi Networks

The Wi-Fi mesh networking equipment market had over 100 percent shipment growth in 2006, and will have over 90 percent growth in 2007, according to In-Stat.

Strong growth will continue for Wi-Fi mesh access points (APs) for the next several years, as shipments grow more than three-fold between 2006 and 2011, the high-tech market research firm says.

In-stat believes that most of that growth however will come between 2006 and 2008, with growth rates rapidly declining starting in 2009.

"Cities will continue to deploy municipal mesh networks, but the rate of new deployments after 2008 will slow, due to concerns over the business model," says Daryl Schoolar, In-Stat analyst.

"Growth in the enterprise (large business) market, plus the need to replace previously deployed nodes, will help offset the slowdown in shipments to new municipal networks."

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

- Manufacturer revenues will grow through 2011, but not as fast as shipments due to expected cost-per-node declines.

- Supporting government applications are needed for a successful municipal network deployment, as consumer access in most cases is not enough to sustain the network by itself.

- WiMAX and cellular will both negatively impact the market as these services go after the same nomadic users that public Wi-Fi networks target.

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