Last week, the City of Venice, Italy launched its Tropos-based wireless broadband network that provides free access to residents and businesses and fee-based access to tourists and visitors. Michele Vianello, vice mayor of Venice, stated "...It should provide a big competitive advantage for business."
So, ...just how will wireless broadband drive business in Venice? I'm sure just the Internet access fees from tourists can't be it...there has to be more to it!
Given tourism is a major industry for Venice, it makes sense that easy access to information about local hotels, restaurants, tours, and events is very important in creating awareness and can drive customers -- hence it will help improve the economy of the City. One can envison tourists as well as residents, iPhone in hand, riding Gondolas or walking the historical streets and being able to easily find products and services businesses have to offer -- right where they are (location-based services). What about a "digital tour guide" that could provide information about historical sites in many different languages based upon where an individual is for a reasonable fee? Wouldn't free broadband access even make Venice a more desirable city in which to live and work?
Its hard to monetize exactly the positive economic impact broadband provides to a community...but I think its there without a question. And that's before even considering the benefits and cost efficiencies in use of the network for municipal applications such as public safety, mobile city workers, and traffic management, as is planned in Venice.