Mark Brandon is the Managing Partner of First Sustainable (http://www.firstsustainable.com), a registered investment advisory catering to socially responsible investors. In addition to Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), he may opine on social venturing, microfinance, community investing, clean technology commercialization, sustainability public policy, green products, and, on occasion, University of Texas Longhorn sports.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sunlight powers streetlights, Wi-Fi access

Before I go further, let me just get it off my chest. Texas 41, USC 38. What a game! Now back to the post:

Staying on my theme of unique business models powering technology commercialization and sustainability, check out this article from CNET.com. To summarize, a company in Scotland has developed a solar-powered streetlight which can also be used to power a Wi-Fi or WiMax router. The company is doing a test run in the Scottish town of Dundee.

The article does not touch on what model these streetlights will be sold. However, imagine this. A city needs streetlights. A city does not NEED a universally accessible wi-fi cloud, though having one can be a boost to business recruitment, image, and emergency communication capabilities. Furthermore, it can enhance the city's schools by bridging the gap for disadvantaged kids and involving parents. Schools enhance property value. Increasing property values enhance a city's tax coffers.

Community wi-fi initiatives are pitifully underserved. Municipal priorities are rightfully focused on police, fire, EMS, sewage, hospitals, infrastructure (such as those streetlights), etc. If a city has extra budget -- and when does that happen? -- wi-fi just does not fall onto the radar. Some cities, such as Austin where I live, have non-profit organizations dedicated to bringing free wi-fi, but they are mostly geared towards getting store-owners to buy equipment, and the store-owners use it as a means to generate traffic. Austin is one of the most wi-fi'd cities on earth, and I still get frustrated with its lack of availability and uniformity. When I leave town, just finding free wi-fi is a pain.

Now, an innovation such as the streetlight product, can pay for itself while helping the city save on electric bills and providing that needed wi-fi connectivity. Going solar always involves a large up-front expense, but the elimination of ongoing electricity bills. I envision a model whereby a city can use its municipal borrowing capacity to fund the purchase of the units and the cost of setting up the wi-fi cloud. Immediately, the city's increased cash flow from the elimination of electricity usage can fund part of the interest and principal payments on the muni bonds.

Secondly, the wi-fi cloud can be outsourced to a management company which will, in turn, cut the city on royalties from advertising. In many places, when you log on to a wi-fi network, the opening "splash page" on the browser requires a login. Don't you think local merchants would love to target upscale, laptop-owning right in their neighborhood? The city could sell premium ad space to, say, realtors specializing in one particular neighborhood. Grocery stores could show their insert specials. Conversely, advertisers could target only upscale neighborhoods for products that sell in those neighborhoods, and increase reach in the poorer neighborhoods.

This model really isn't that different from the model used in radio today. The government gives a license to a company that will put up a tower and broadcast commercial messages as long as they can co-opt the tower in times of emergency. The city could also mandate decency standards for the splash page.

So, revenues from advertising, cost reductions from electricity bills pay the coupons on the interest and principal from the underwritten bonds. The city gets a wi-fi cloud for free. Schools win. The community wins. The technology wins. The environment wins.

4 Comments:

Blogger Investment Center said...

Hi thanks for your blog, I liked it! I also have a blog/site about china in investing
that covers china in investing
related stuff. Please feel free to visit.

10:14 PM

 
Blogger Rachel said...


creek estate investment queen real Stock Investing - You Can Earn More Profit When Making Stock Decisions In Groups.
Do you want to generate extra dollars and new friends in the stock market? You Don't Have To Be An Expert Stock Broker To Get Started Today!

Are you alone when you make your stock decisions? Do you think you could benefit from using the minds of several interested stock market hobbyists all determined to make sure you have your money invested in the right shares? Stock Investing creek estate investment queen real

11:33 AM

 
Blogger DiSCo said...

Really trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked marked your site and am about to email it

to a few friends of mine that I know would enjoy reading..
seslisohbet
seslichat
sesli sohbet
sesli chat
sesli
sesli site
görünlütü sohbet
görüntülü chat
kameralı sohbet
kameralı chat
sesli sohbet siteleri
sesli chat siteleri
görüntülü sohbet siteleri
görüntülü chat siteleri
kameralı sohbet siteleri
canlı sohbet
sesli muhabbet
görüntülü muhabbet
kameralı muhabbet
seslidunya
seslisehir
sesli sex

10:25 AM

 
Blogger Sesli Chat said...

Really trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked marked your site and am about to email it

to a few friends of mine that I know would enjoy reading..
seslisohbet
seslichat
sesli sohbet
sesli chat
sesli
sesli site
görünlütü sohbet
görüntülü chat
kameralı sohbet
kameralı chat
sesli sohbet siteleri
sesli chat siteleri
sesli muhabbet siteleri
görüntülü sohbet siteleri
görüntülü chat siteleri
görüntülü muhabbet siteleri
kameralı sohbet siteleri
kameralı chat siteleri
kameralı muhabbet siteleri
canlı sohbet
sesli muhabbet
görüntülü muhabbet
kameralı muhabbet
birsesver
birses
seslidunya
seslisehir
sesli sex

6:39 AM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home