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.