Competition from a free municipal WiFi network in Lawrence, KS (a one-ISP town) has forced the local monopoly into providing a competing free service:
Lawrence has been touted nationally as the "land that anti-trust forgot". It is one of the few cities in America where one company owns the cable provider, cable news channel, daily newspaper, online news journal, weekly independent and most popular website. What keeps this media machine running smoothly? Broadband Internet revenue. According to Ralph Gage, former Chief Operating Officer of The World Company, 53 percent of the World Company's annual revenue was generated by broadband Internet access.
"What better place to start a municipal WiFi project," jokes Joshua Montgomery, founder of the Lawrence Freenet Project and CEO of the organization's for-profit service provider, "I mean what could possibly go wrong?" The Lawrence Freenet municipal WiFi project was launched in April of 2005 by a small group of local geeks. "Mostly we just wanted to see what we could do with Wi-Fi," says Montgomery, "we started off with a $50 WiFi access point and a DSL connection. Now the organization has one of the largest mesh networks in the nation and serves over 1,100 members with broadband Internet access – all without a single dime of tax payer money."