When people talk about municipal broadband, they usually assume it means wireless Ethernet (Wi-Fi) but it ain't necessarily so. Wired networking is feasible too - without having to lay extra cable to every user.

The solution is broadband over the mains, of course, typically using using Homeplug or PowerLine gear. (We reviewed some of this gear here.)

In most municipal schemes, a wired network acts as the backbone and then connectivity out to the users is wireless. The Solihull version will turn that on its head, using pre-WiMax wireless links to a gateway device in each block of flats and then distributing bandwidth within the building via the electricity cables, as a free or subsidised service.

The choice of CI-Net's RedKite wireless service for the backhaul avoided the need to dig up the roads to lay fibre, saving cost, time and disruption. And the consumer units in the individual flats each have unique IP addresses, so (in theory, anyway) they have no resale value if stolen.

There will still be local Wi-Fi hung off the same backbone, though - the council and CI-Net plan to use it (and spare capacity on the RedKite backbone) to offer Internet service to businesses in the area.