Earthlink reportedly, and not so surprisingly, is considering strategic alternatives for its municipal Wi-Fi business. All the rage just a couple years ago, the muni Wi-Fi fad has faded fast this year, and if Earthlink exits, it could be officially over. That should please telcos, some of whom narrowly avoided investing in the concept themselves, and most of whom were generally put off by municipalities' interest in having public Wi-Fi networks that could compete with their own broadband capabilities.
If Earthlink's strategic alternatives include a possible sale of its Wi-Fi business, it's hard to see who would be willing to buy. It seems like Wi-Fi, once a broadband alternative, is now much more of a broadband extension. Providers of broadband services and fixed-mobile converged services are accepting Wi-Fi as a key part of their solutions--not in opposition to them. And, mobile broadband is making the idea of a city-sized Wi-Fi umbrella unnecessary. Mobile users can carry broadband networks in their pockets.
Public Wi-Fi pricing didn't help either. Still, public fee-based Wi-Fi will stick around, as something people can have with their coffee. If the lattes don't empty their wallets, Wi-Fi will.
- The Associated Press reports
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