Joel West blogged about "Municipal Wi-Fi: what’s the point? " In his post, West writes about the forces at work in Phillie: "The plan took off because of the combination of the socio-political (politicians trying to look good) with the techno-economic forces (Intel, Motorola trying to sell hardware), in what Yoo called “a perfect storm.” He and his co-authors mapped out the relationship of the different actors, as shown below: here"
While I agree that the muni networks were over-sold and under-delivered, one has to remember that broadband enhanced cities attract more jobs and have higher home values that similar cities that do not have available broadband. (There are plenty of studies including the Iowa city study from BB Properties).
Cities are competing for jobs and for skilled workers (the Creative Class that Dr. Florida writes about). You need ever advantage even if it is just a PR advantage.
We are competing globally. You think we have an education issue now? Wait 5 years when most of the G8 is wired for broadband - and we are still limping along. Oh, the NFL cities are lit, but these cities are already bogged down by traffic, sprawl, unaffordable housing, lack of teachers and police, nary mass transit, and lack of potable water (FL, AZ and NM come to mind). And these cities are being over-built with fiber on top of DSL as well as EVDO.
Yeah, the wi-fi networks aren't there yet, but it is a work in prgress. It was all theory until deployment started.