August 2nd, 2007

SF Muni Wi-Fi – The Mayor Got it Right

With Earthlink’s recent earnings call, they announced that there could be some forthcoming changes with their Muni Wi-Fi strategy – and spending. They are expected to pull back on announcing new projects. (see Fierce post)

This leaves open the question of what will happen to the proposed project in SF. (see Fierce post)

The project was proposed close to two years ago with the city choosing to move forward (evaluate closely) with a joint proposal from Earthlink and Google. The City Supervisors have been fighting the proposal as it was originally put forth because, among other reasons, the speeds at the free service level aren’t fast enough. They basically want better terms.

Earthlink made a very generous offer a couple of years ago when they were looking for high profile trial sites. At the time, they were (and could still be, but this in doubt) to make investments for reasons that went beyond the pure ROI of SF alone. SF offered marketing, buzz, and proof of concept.

The situation is different now. Gavin Newsom warned the city that the opportunity might evaporate if they didn’t take it. He was right – the city may lose this opportunity all together.

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