Business Week has an article about the Earthlink Wi-Fi build-out in Anaheim. I remember that they got this contract right around the time when they were demonstrating their pilot network in North Minneapolis before Minneapolis had chosen a vendor.
Earthlink is providing internal antennas/modems for free in Anaheim. Monthly cost is slightly higher — $21.95 compared to $19.95 — but some of that is probably local cost of living with Anaheim on the high end.
The article is critical of municipal Wi-Fi, wondering whether the for-profit deployments can ever sustain themselves financially. From the article:
But EarthLink and other providers have struggled with low subscriber response and reliability problems, and entrenched telecom and cable giants are fighting back with alternative technologies. The question is whether municipal Wi-Fi will ever pay off, or if this grand plan to offer broadband to the masses is headed for the dustbin of history.
According to the article, Novarum, a wireless consultant, found that the Earthlinkd network was only connecting about 72% of the time. (Earthlink states that where deployed, they have at least 90% connectivity.)
So what’s going to happen if a company much smaller than Earthlink deploys a municipal wireless network in a major Midwest city and discovers that their projections were in error and they are losing money?