Being an ex-politician, I've had to discuss "free city-wide Wi-Fi" many times. What I've always been thinking is, why don't we just have free 3G/4G in the city?

I've some memories of being at a large amusement park and my phone roaming on their network showing the name of the amusement park as a carrier.

  • If the municipality would put it into law that LTE must be free within its area, would it be possible for phones without SIM cards to get internet there?
  • When selecting manual networks I notice that all here are close, what's an non-closed network?
  • Is it possible to have an "open" LTE network?
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    If the cellular carriers would agree, I would agree.
    – Ron Trunk
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 1:13
  • disclaimer: I know nothing. As a home gamer I've heard the only real "open" option is ham radio. I don't know exactly why that is, I know radio is heavily regulated, it may be that ham radio is the only public use spectrum that can carry signals far enough to be meaningful. I am pretty sure any radio technology that is high bandwidth enough for metro use is tied up with red tape across the board; patent, licensing, broadcasting, hardware, manufacturing, fees, operation, roi. To echo Ron, the carrier holds all the cards. You could probably create an LTE reseller agreement and brand the service. Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 1:54
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    Not really a duplicate but somewhat similar question: networkengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/34521/…
    – hertitu
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 14:45
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    Then the highest-voted answer is your answer. If you can get the spectrum, equipment, maintenance, right of way for towers and backhaul, etc. then you can do the same thing the telcos do. I think your problem is that you do not realize how much it really costs to build out something like that, and Wi-Fi will start looking like a better option. The amusement park is probably just reselling an incumbent carrier, much like my cable company does for its LTE offering.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 4:57
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    That question doesn't really make any sense. Is the city going to pay every carrier in the city so that the citizens can use their networks for free? TANSTAAFL. Somebody has to pay the carriers to use their networks, otherwise they go out of business, and there are no networks. Either the city pays the carriers, or the city sets up its own separate network.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 5:08

2 Answers 2


The answer is: "yes, technically"

You most definitely can create an open network, it's not even that hard. You won't realistically be able to start your own network, but many telecoms will gladly sell you access to their infrastructure that would allow you to set up a "virtual" operator (MVNO).

Unfortunately, that's where your plan is going off the rails. Telecoms will still charge you for the data transmitted. Of course, since you're going to be buying it in bulk it's going to be cheaper, but it's still going to be too expensive to provide it as a free service.

You can hear about setting up an MVNO here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HdGuCFQYMs


Can be possible, but giving open 5G network won't be helpful as less than 10% users having 5g supported handset (depends on your area) and also now 5g device are expensive too.

So what's the best way to go if you want free access to internet for all.

Answers is WiFi offloading

Wi-Fi offload(ing)/ 4G/3G data offloading or simply offloading, It is all about building a  Wifi network parallel with the congested mobile data networks with additional capacity from unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum.

You can partnership with any Mobile operators in your to help deploy wifi on their mobile network (sharing resources) and internet will be available to all (off course you can other features like time based /volume based usage)

  • Given that 70% of this municipalitys citizens live outside the city center Wi-Fi wouldn't be effective, and very costly (like one ap/household in many parts. It also wouldn't promote outdoor activities. Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 0:55
  • Mobile operator's tower is available everywhere. Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 1:00
  • Also you would be using Outdoor WiFi which is suitable for large areas. Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 1:01
  • Area 448 km^2, people density of 14/km^2. Number of APs? Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 11:23
  • Number of AP depends on many factors, like Terrain, density , environment condition Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 14:29

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