Just catching up on EarthLink news. ELN has a new CEO, who isn't clear on the strategy and focus for ELN or how much cost cutting is left to do [source: infoweek].
"Since 2002, EarthLink has offered business customers Citrix® GoToMyPC®, which enables the ISP’s customers to remotely access their full PC desktops from any Web browser." Now, ELN is offering 2 other Citrix products: "EarthLink customers can sign up for GoToMeeting and/or GoToWebinar to receive a 30-day free trial of each service." [bizwire]
That's all well and good, but reselling Citrix isn't making ELN any real revenue. And many wonder if Muni wi-fi will. Heartland reports that Muni Problems Persist Nationwide. Muni is great for people checking email on the go or for tourists, but would someone stop using cable modem or DSL to pay for muni wireless? That is the key question.
Now selling access in retail stores is a good idea. (At least this guy thinks so). GetConnected, Inc. is helping with the retail initiative. I even heard that kiosks might be coming soon. (Maybe pre-paid internet cards, huh, guys?)
But pushing devices that utilize that wi-fi system is VERY important. Yeah, Nokia handsets are cool, but $400 gadgets are not going to close the digital divide. For that you need refurbed PC's and laptops. Wireless B cards are inexpensive ($10 online). Laptops are still $500 though. A project to have students refurb used computers and offer them to low-income families would be a worthwhile project. (And there has to be grant monies available for that).
As ELN moves forward with Phillie - from the trial that passed to forward deployment - everyone is watching closely. It is getting more expensive (according to ARS). And there is trepidation that it may be another Taipei [read the media report].
From the ARS article: "Cities should also be wary of heavy reliance on consumer use to finance the network, says Settles. "The consumer base is the most fickle, unreliable, and questionable revenue stream," he argues. Instead, cities should focus their efforts on making sure the service is attractive to businesses." But will Businesses buy into Wi-Fi? Besides security concerns, most businesses have an alternative broadband choice like cable modem, DSL, or fiber.
I still say Muni Wi-Fi is a feel good project for the city government and a PR necessity to attract jobs. You have to compete with other cities - not just for jobs but for the Creative Class of employees that add flavor to a city.
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