A passage with more background on the Wi-Fi movement:
The municipal Wi-Fi movement is far from dead. More than 90 cities and towns, including Portland, Ore., Corpus Christi, Texas, and others, have already launched service, according to MuniWireless.com, a Web site that tracks the projects nationally. Nationwide spending on municipal Internet projects was $236 million last year, up from $117 million in 2005, and is expected to nearly double this year, the organization said. Wi-Fi technology, generally, is gaining popularity. Consumers are increasingly accessing the Web at hotspots like coffee shops and airport lounges. And they are doing so not just from laptops, but also from new mobile devices like Apple Inc.'s iPhone.
But municipal networks aren't on track to offer consumers a cheaper high-speed alternative to the powerful U.S. phone and cable companies, as some backers once envisioned.And here's a specific passage that relates to EarthLink:
At the end of the second quarter, EarthLink had only about 4,000 subscribers from its rollouts in Philadelphia, Anaheim, Calif. and Corpus Christi. The company, which is operating under new leadership after the death of former Chief Executive Garry Betty early this year, said in late July it would pull back on further investments in Wi-Fi until it negotiates better deals with cities. In particular, the company wants a commitment by cities to become a significant customer, or "anchor tenant," and thereby guarantee EarthLink a steady revenue stream. "The Wi-Fi business, as currently constituted, will not provide an acceptable return" for EarthLink shareholders, said newly installed Chief Executive Rolla Huff on a recent conference call with analysts.