Municipal Wi-Fi Loses It Juice

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The big city-wide WiFi deployment that was going to make broadband access to the masses a reality was to start in San Francisco. After all, it is the large city at the region that is America’s tech cradle. But, it looks like it is not to be.

The SF infrastructure was going to be built by Google (GOOG) and Earthlink (ELNK). According to MarketWatch: EarthLink is now "doing a detailed review of the business model" associated with municipal wireless, ELNK CEO Huff said. "The Wi-Fi business as currently constituted will not provide an acceptable return."

In other words, there is no money to be made, and Earthlink is not willing to take a big loss.

Municipal Wi-Fi was to be the modern day equivalent of water and sewage service, city-side services. But, in most cases high-speed wireless was to be free.

Fights between city official and tech providers have delayed this just as 3G and 4G networks are being bought to market by the cell carriers and Sprint (S) and Clearwire (CLWR) are rolling out WiMax to most big cities and much of the rest of the country.

With new technology on the way and city-wide Wi-Fi projects bogged down, it is likely that none of them will ever become a reality.

Douglas A. McIntyre