Apr 27, 2007 (08:04 PM EDT)
EarthLink Takes A Deep Breath
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
Taking a breather in a hyperventilating market, EarthLink says it will focus on current municipal wireless projects and consider bidding on new citywide systems "on an individual basis."
EarthLink is among a raft of companies investing millions of dollars in city Wi-Fi networks despite unproven profitability. EarthLink will continue with projects it's started, including a network in Houston. "We're still going full steam ahead," executive VP Donald Berryman told the Houston Chronicle.
MetroFi--a startup with contracts for several Wi-Fi projects, including one in Portland, Ore.--has shifted its business model away from underwriting the total cost of the networks, according to reports. The company now wants cities in which it provides free, ad-supported Wi-Fi to commit to service levels in advance.
The EarthLink and MetroFi moves suggest that reality is sinking into the metro Wi-Fi market.
EarthLink, which has sought a way to expand its business beyond Internet access, has partnered with Tropos to build some of the largest wireless networks. It's also teaming up with Google on a free network in San Francisco that's been dogged by slow contract negotiations and City Hall politics.
Says wireless consultant Craig Settles, "The era of the vendor-financed muni network may be coming to an end."