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Print 12 comment(s) - last by Kazairl2.. on Mar 26 at 2:09 AM

Earthlink bails on municipal Wi-Fi leaving low income families in a lurch

When some large and medium sized cities decided to try and roll out city wide municipal Wi-Fi service that would be used by paying customers and by low-income families for free or reduced rates, EarthLink was one of the first ISPs to jump on the project.

EarthLink pretty much cornered the market on municipal Wi-Fi and the projects in cities like Philadelphia were hailed as Internet for the masses. The New York Times now reports these lofty goals for Philadelphia and other cities that jumped on the municipal Wi-Fi bandwagon have all but come to a standstill. The main reason for the halt on the roll out plans for city wide Wi-Fi is being blamed on the abrupt about face by EarthLink who suddenly announced it was pulling out of the project.

Customers that previously had municipal Wi-Fi service in Portland, Oregon and Tempe, Arizona are now finding their access is no longer available. EarthLink announced in early February 2008, "the operations of the municipal Wi-Fi assets were no longer consistent with the company’s strategic direction."

The cessation of Wi-Fi operations and the possible loss of access for some users in Philadelphia has some low income families worried. Cesar DeLaRosa, a 15 year old municipal Wi-Fi user from Philadelphia told The New York Times, “If we don’t have Internet, that means I’ve got to take the bus to the public library after dark, and around here, that’s not always real safe.” Officials in Philadelphia say that the municipal Wi-Fi service promised by EarthLink won’t be disconnected.

The problem according to some that has lead to the faltering Wi-Fi service is that the business model was flawed. It was found that to offer the quality of coverage needed required more routers than planned on making the cost of installing the network more expensive. At the same time the cost of access to paying providers on the municipal Wi-Fi service was more than what paying customers could get similar connectivity for from competing firms.

EarthLink announced a similar pull out in San Francisco, leading Mayor Gavin Newson to say, “It was a huge disappointment for us. And, with all due respect, it doesn’t seem like a smart way to run a business to work with a city for two years over a major plan and then suddenly one day to call and say you are pulling out.”



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Odd...
By FITCamaro on 3/24/2008 2:54:11 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
EarthLink announced a similar pull out in San Francisco, leading Mayor Gavin Newson to say, “It was a huge disappointment for us. And, with all due respect, it doesn’t seem like a smart way to run a business to work with a city for two years over a major plan and then suddenly one day to call and say you are pulling out.”


You'd think people in San Franscisco would be used to taking it up the butt.




RE: Odd...
By Serafina on 3/24/08, Rating: -1
RE: Odd...
By FITCamaro on 3/24/2008 3:07:38 PM , Rating: 5
A jumbo jet just flew over your head and you didn't even notice did you?


RE: Odd...
By 67STANG on 3/24/2008 3:29:15 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, drink much kool-aid do you? Where did you even come up with that comment? Please, go back under the bridge.


RE: Odd...
By Elementalism on 3/24/2008 3:44:48 PM , Rating: 4
And let me guess, you are a noble Left winger willing to spend public money on boondoggle projects because it "feels" good?

There is a reason why a private enterprise being backed by public money got out of this. It was terribly flawed from the getgo. And trust me, if a company that has public backing jets, the project must be beyond terrible.


RE: Odd...
By Kazairl2 on 3/26/2008 2:09:11 AM , Rating: 1
The whole concept of wireless internet being a "free right" is flawed. Where I live in the US, you can get basic 768K/128K DSL for $19.95/month. Anybody who can afford the computer needed to access the internet can afford that. In fact, many of the people complaining that a monthly internet is "too expensive" probably spend more than that on cigarettes and/or beer. Many of them probably have cellphones as well, with cell plans more expensive than basic internet. This is just a case of liberals throwing money at a perceived problem to make themselves feel better, whether or not it actually helps people. For that matter, is it really "fair" for those without computers to be paying to provide internet access for those who do?

As far as the "money greedy companies" comment, that shows how poor your understanding of the real world truly is. Every single part of the computer you are posting from was made by a "money greedy" company. The result is that there's been both rapid progress in computer capabilities and rapid decrease in computer prices. If the government were in charge of computer development, they'd still be holding hearings to decide whether or not to develop a 486 chip to use in a $3000 computer system. Implementing the Wi-fi was going to cost Earthlink more than they were going to receive from the city. Since Earthlink isn't a government agency, they can't just throw money away. Businesses that do that don't last. Incidentally, whatever it was going to cost Earthlink to implement that wireless plan would probably be at least doubled if a government agency tried to do it themselves. Read about The Big Dig near Boston.


No surprise
By Elementalism on 3/24/2008 3:41:59 PM , Rating: 3
I have been watching these City run WiFi projects from the getgo and they are nothing but a waste of money for the taxpayers. Minneapolis got theirs up and running last week. It was a month late and failed to cover the entire city. It only covers 65% of the city. Yet the star and sickle had a big article on it praising the city for "trying".

The biggest concerns are the back end costs. These politicians see the up front cost as small. But the cost of the leased lines, th einfrastructure, the support staff will swamp the tax coffers. And when they fail to generate enough revenues to break even or fund further imiprovements? The tax payers are stuck footing the bill.

Terrible idea for the city to get involved with WiFi.




RE: No surprise
By TomZ on 3/24/2008 4:09:50 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, terrible idea that some "slower" people will only learn over time. Cities should focus on their core responsibilities and leave WiFi to industry to provide on their own, if the business opportuinity justifies such investement.

The public's "need" for low-cost/free Internet is already well-covered with the computers available at most public libraries.


RE: No surprise
By 67STANG on 3/24/2008 4:27:35 PM , Rating: 2
As long as you don't mind smelling the homeless people reading the newspaper-- which is mysteriously attached to a 6 foot long wooden pole.

(I am assuming every library is like this).


RE: No surprise
By SectionEight on 3/24/2008 9:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
leave WiFi to industry to provide on their own, if the business opportuinity justifies such investement


Exactly. The reason internet access costs so much to begin with is the companies are still paying off the infrastructure costs, in addition to maintenance costs. The last thing we need is another form of internet service that costs even more than the rest because it cost a hideous amount of money to install. Paid for by the taxpayers too no less.


war driving any one
By Marvlarv on 3/25/2008 8:00:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
“If we don’t have Internet, that means I’ve got to take the bus to the public library after dark, and around here, that’s not always real safe.”


Just use someone else's, Probably some one right next door.
^_^




By mkrech on 3/25/2008 11:18:40 AM , Rating: 2
Please rebut me if I am incorrect because I have never heard a compelling argument for the utilization of Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz 802.11) as a wide area network. I think setting up Wi-Fi on a campus setting is pushing its intended design envelope.

I would describe my view of municipal Wi-Fi as akin to building a mass transit system where stops must be spaced every half block over the entire city.

Other technologies, such as WiMax or 3G, are appropriate for larger area deployments.




"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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