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Gavin Newsom continues to be a strong supporter of citywide WiFi  (Source: Official Gavin Newsom web site)
Earthlink crumbles, and with it the plans of must urban municipal WiFi

As EarthLink continues in a rather nasty downward spiral, the likelihood of seeing citywide WiFi in San Francisco does not really look promising. 

EarthLink's self destruction
didn't initially concern metropolitan residents much, but the company's part in the WiFi deal was important -- Google would offer a slower service, with EarthLink offering increased speeds for a low payment per month.

Residents cheered when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom envisioned free citywide WiFi for residents and visitors of San Francisco a couple of years ago.  But now the mayor must continue searching for other companies which originally showed interest in offering WiFi to the city.

Even though it's not difficult to find WiFi hot spots in San Francisco, the ability of having WiFi everywhere in the City would be superb.  The San Francisco Metreon, located a block away from Market Street, there are at least 15 active WiFi access points.  A quick visit to the heart of. Financial District also revealed a large number of WiFi points that a user with a notebook or smart phone can use.  However, a trip down to Fisherman's Wharf will reveal only a couple of access points.

EarthLink's faulty business plan cost the company a $5 million penalty after failing to come up with a wireless network for the city of Houston.  EarthLink now has until June next year to either start building the network or find a way to sneak out of the contract with Houston. 

The company also had to bow out of a deal with Chicago.  The city originally intended to provide infrastructure to AT&T or Earthlink for city-wide access, but negotiations fell apart when neither company could settle terms on cash for the project.

Earthlink's largest other muncipal WiFi plans have not panned out in any significant manner yet.  The Earthlink Lompoc, California, project cost the company $3 million but netted less than 500 users at last count.  The company's Anaheim and Philadelphia networks are still under construction.


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By m1ldslide1 on 9/4/2007 11:55:52 AM , Rating: 2
I feel like the mobility market has suffered over the last few years given the barriers to entry. In other words, if you don't have the capital to compete with Verizon and AT&T, then your business doesn't have much of a chance in the mobility sector. As we've seen over and over, open-source technology leads to greater advances in a shorter amount of time, ultimately providing better and cheaper products to the consumers. Providing free WiFi with this type of coverage allows consumers to explore other options for their mobility solutions, which will provide the impetus for smaller companies to innovate and enter the market. Given all this, I feel like it completely falls within a municipality's role. To me, the short-term picture is allowing everybody to have connectivity in their homes who normally can't afford other services. Yes, they can go to the library. The bigger picture here is to provide the groundwork for innovation and more value for the consumer. Sort of a "if you build it, they will come" type of thing, and I think we've seen over and over that with regards to technology (specifically the internet), this axion will hold true.


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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