Thursday, August 30, 2007

EarthLink San Francisco Network Now Toast

EarthLink will not be providing free wireless Internet access throughout San Francisco. As promised, EarthLink is not proceeding with any new muncipal Wi-Fi networks when it has to pay the full cost of construction, as would have been the case in San Francisco.

Under the original deal, EarthLink would have invested $14 million to $17 million to build the network. EarthLink also expected to be able to charge $22 a month for a premium tier of service.

San Francisco officials probably will issue another proposal request. And EarthLink conceivably could get additional sponsors. But it's getting tough to make the numbers work when tethered broadband rates now are so affordable. In cities where muni Wi-Fi networks are in operation, or have been proposed, it isn't unusual to find tiers of service comparable to Wi-Fi available for $10 to $15 a month.

Also, as video becomes a more important part of the Internet experience, muni Wi-Fi networks just aren't going to be able to keep up.

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