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Earthlink Shutters Municipal WiFi

Coming as no surprise to anyone who understands the true voodoo economics of municipal WiFi, Earthlink is shuttering its existing municipal WiFi networks.

From today’s RCR News:

EarthLink Inc. has officially shut down all operations related to its municipal Wi-Fi projects that hit the skids last summer. Making good on earlier promises, the company is looking for potential buyers after writing down a $20.7 million charge on discontinued operations related to its municipal Wi-Fi assets.

It’s been my view, publicly stated for well over a year, that community-wide municipal WiFi networks are losing propositions. Too many competitors vie in the WiFi space for this low-pay market, and too many competitors (think Sprint, AT&T, etc.) offer higher speed services on their own PCS networks.

Cable opearators are exploring entry into WiFi using their existing cable backbones for back-haul. That makes a lot of sense, and offers yet another reason why municipal governments shouldn’t be in the community-wide WiFi business, even with partners such as Earthlink, Google, etc.

As best I can tell, it’s the municipal consultants, paid bloggers/conference runners, and equipment vendors that are making money in this sector.

I do, however, continue to be a strong advocate for municipal governments providing WiFi in limited or controlled public spaces such as libraries, parks, senior centers, government buildings, etc.

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