Municipal Wi-Fi died a death, when the business models all fell apart. Could municipal-backed wiMax be different?

the interesteing thing about ConnectMK's service in Milton Keynes, announced today is that, while it bills itself as the "first commercial WiMax service in the UK", it's actually backed by a public sector body, Milton Keynes Council.

But this is not a return to the municipal Wi-Fi model, where public Wi-fi becomes a human right, and the council can provide it for free because it's an anchor tenant and gives lamp-post rentals for nothing. That was idealistic but flawed.

Milton Keynes' municipal WiMax is, for a start, not very municipal. It's aiming to get a lot of business customers. And WiMax, unlike a Wi-Fi hotzone, can offer them something they want: symmetric services at speeds they can use, and with better price and avaiability compared with SDSL.

Coupled with the terminally hopeless aluminium infrastrcuture of the city, which keeps many of its residents and businesses off broadband, and you have the potential for an actual commercial success - and one that the council intends to use to help disadvantaged locals.

There is bound to be a flaw in this, but it's not jumping out at us yet.