That's according to Craig Settles, a consultant to governments regarding mobile and wireless networks, who was inteviewed by newsfactor.com's Richard Koman in this Yahoo News story:
"In rural areas and many small towns, providing access is something government should be involved in," he said, adding that, unlike with municipal Wi-Fi, residents probably don't necessarily expect it to be free.
Settles worked with local governments in ruraland , where it was not economically feasible for the incumbent provider to come in. "In those outlying areas, they don't really have an option for technology and there's a greater need for people to be served by local or state government activity."
A key issue is how the build-out should be funded. States are providing grant money and seeking funds from federal homeland security and other programs. "The bottom line is that the vendor picks up a check," Settles said. "There can't be any of the silliness of how advertising will pay the bills."
Looking at 2008, "we'll see more state-driven initiatives for underserved areas," Settles said. Just as municipal Wi-Fi spread as cities started talking to each other, "a similar kind of dynamic will happen at the state level," he predicted, "but with a much more pragmatic and cautious approach than cities showed."