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Making Municipal Wi-Fi Work
What does MetroFi know that EarthLink doesn’t?
by KathrynV 01:14PM Sunday Sep 09 2007 Tipped by fatmanskinny See Profile
Despite the fact that EarthLink’s municipal Wi-Fi plans are crumbling around them, the company maintains that they’ll be able to get back into the market. They just need to figure out the right kind of wireless to make it happen. This includes looking at partnerships with Clearwire or Sprint Nextel for a combined Wi-Fi / WiMax solution. It also means working with cities to consider realistic coverage area; in a quotable moment, CEO Rolla Huff said:
quote:
“We were providing coverage to cattle. It didn’t make good business sense.”
And it might mean taking some lessons from MetroFi which is having much greater success with their municipal deployment. MetroFi cites their success as being due to their focus on smaller, suburban areas where the governments also use the networks as well as to their ad-based funding system. One thing’s for sure; EarthLink needs to change its approach. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out that failure to be more innovative in this area could cause EarthLink's muni Wi-Fi to go the way of Atari and Super 8 film.

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FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

We were providing coverage to cattle

I think that quote adequately describes the average "free municipal wifi" user. And that is why that internet access model is dying across the country. People who don't want to pay anything don't buy anything either. And that kills the ad supported model as well.
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DaneJasper
Sonic.Net
Premium,VIP
join:2001-08-20
Santa Rosa, CA
kudos:9

Re: We were providing coverage to cattle

said by FFH:

I think that quote adequately describes the average "free municipal wifi" user. And that is why that internet access model is dying across the country. People who don't want to pay anything don't buy anything either. And that kills the ad supported model as well.
I think he meant they were covering pasture land.

-Dane

DaneJasper
Sonic.Net
Premium,VIP
join:2001-08-20
Santa Rosa, CA
kudos:9

More press on WiFi

We got some coverage here:

»www1.pressdemocrat.com/apps/pbcs···SINESS01

-Dane

Ben
Premium
join:2007-06-17
Glen Carbon, IL

1 edit

How Is This Going To Be Funded?

Really, how?

Does it result in an increase in taxation for the residents? Or do users pay a fee?

I hope it's not through taxation, because unlike roads, this isn't something that everyone needs. Wi-Fi hotspots are useless to me, for example, because I don't own a laptop or any portable device capable of Wi-Fi. Taxation to fund this is unfair since it means people like me, who are indeed incapable of using the service, end up paying something for nothing.

RayW
Premium
join:2001-09-01
Layton, UT
kudos:1

Re: How Is This Going To Be Funded?

said by Ben:

I hope it's not through taxation, because unlike roads, this isn't something that everyone needs.
According to certain politicians (on all sides, not just the Democrats) and certain so called minority 'leaders', that is not a true statement.

Personally I do not NEED the internet, but having it and paying my (note: *I* am paying, not Joe taxpayer) $50 a month is worth it for me instead of going to the library. Even when I was a student and unemployed I paid for the net, even though it was a short 1.5 miles to the campus and less than a mile to the library, just for convenience - just had to give up some things to pay for it.
--
I am not lost, I find myself every time.
jjeffeory

join:2002-12-04
USA
That's not what I got out of the article. However, many people pay taxes for things they don't & can not use all of the time. Schools are a big example. Not everybody has children, therefore can't really use the schools. Just an alternate view for yall.
thehinge

join:2005-11-07
And that's the point, does anyone really NEED wireless access, in an urban or rural environment? Some people do, sure....but taxpayers shouldn't foot the bill. The schools argument isn't the same. Everyone has or can benefit from a public education. Unless you're secure enough to get a private education. And then, guess what, you pay through the teeth for that private education. And that's fine.

I'd like to see a municipal government demonstrate that wifi is a public necessity. Nope, I think users should pay for it. A whole other question is can wifi companies support their networks with just user fees? Few people are going to pay for a service they can't use in home or office. How many people do you know that work in a public square?????

WhichPartofSpin

@verizon.net

They are not "crumbling around them"

The news guy strikes again...

Tilts the reporting to that which makes him feel like he is correct...

"Our core business has been diluted by new business initiatives that were begun with good intentions but morphed into larger commitments," said Huff. "We are not exiting these growth initiatives; we're scaling back their cost structures to fit the startups that they in fact are."

No part of that is hard to understand.
DSL Oberst

join:2001-11-29

Re: They are not "crumbling around them"

said by WhichPartofSpin :

Tilts the reporting to that which makes him feel like he is correct...
Except to those of us who know and deal with people on the inside at Earthlink on a daily basis. I still know what goes on in that company - plenty of my friends still there (though much less with the upcoming layoff).

And yes, their wireless plans ARE crumbling around them.
dunksalot

join:2006-02-18
Mountain View, CA

MetroFi's Model?

MetroFi has switched their model from one of building free networks to one of municipally funded. They only have 1 working example of the new model (Riverside). The other 8 cities they built had no anchor tenancy and are financial burns. They do have a relationship with AT&T but using AT&T for the deployment of a potentially competitive service may not be in a city's best interests.
PeterCollins

join:2005-05-23
Geneva, IL

Re: MetroFi's Model?

I think it might help to be a little more clear on "municipally funded."

The funding model that MetroFi has laid out more recently required cities to be an anchor tenant. The cities still have no ownership of the systems. The simply agree to purchase services from a vendor to deal with their own mobile data needs. These contracts (at least the ones I've seen) are not exclusive, and if the service was spotty, the cities would have the ability to hold the vendor liable to QOS.

Calling these builds (MetroFi, Earthlink, AT&T) "municipal wifi" is a huge misnomer. They all use municipal assets via r.o.w. or pole attachment agreements, but they're privately owned and are no more "municipal" than Comcast or OOL are "municipal cable providers."

The only time they're really "municipal" builds is when the cities build the network (either themselves or through contractors) and OWN the assets.
--
Peter I. Collins
Information Technologies Manager
City of Geneva, Illinois
pcollins@geneva.il.us
630.232.1743

Yauch

join:2005-06-24

Cherry Picking?

quote:
smaller, suburban areas
1. Why is this OK?
2. Are Muni networks really so important that this site encourages it? Do we really want a third competitor in the market place that's even more unscrupulous than the other two.