Setback for Sacramento's WiFi network

Earthquakes, mud-slides, Congressman "Duke" Cunningham admits to taking millions of dollars in bribes and goes to jail: Any more bad news for California? In fact, yes: MobilePro is pulling out of a deal to set up a wireless network in Sacramento, the state's capital, saying the city's request for a network funded entirely through advertising is not financially feasible. The Maryland-based company had worked with Sacramento officials for more than a year on the proposal to cover the city with WiFi, following in the footsteps of other cities around the US.

MobilePro president and chief operating officer Jerry Sullivan said the city's most recent request asks the company offer free-high speed access to all residents, supported through advertising revenue and without the city as a so-called anchor tenant, or financial backer. He said the company had planned to spend more than $8 million to set up a network of thousands of access points. The service was planned to offer free, streaming-ads-supported lower speed service, and a faster-speed subscription-based service. The city's demand that the entire service be free and ad-supported at all speeds undermined the company's business plans. "Based upon MobilePro's research and experience as one of the leading WiFi broadband wireless network service providers to municipalities in North America, MobilePro does not believe that an advertising-supported business case is financially sustainable," d service featuring streaming ads,

MobilePro won a competitive bid last year to work on the Sacramento project, beating out competitors including Motorola and SBC Communications. A pilot project offering outdoor public WiFi Web access and real time video was inaugurated in the city's Cesar Chavez Plaza Park with great fanfare in April. The initial phase had the support of city officials and MobilePro.

For more on the Sacramento deal
-read this Boston Globe report
- and David Gardner's InformationWeek report

MORE: Chaska, Minnesota, was among the pioneers of muni-WiFi. An analysis of what actually happened on the ground in this small city in the state of a thousand lakes reveals that city leaders could talk the talk, but could not walk the walk. Report.