Earthlink is trying to enter the municipal WiFi market. The company is positioning itself as a municipal WiFi service provider and manager. The company would deploy the wireless network and maintain it (presumably working with other vendors), and in return get access to a new group of broadband subscribers. Some insiders speculate that Earthlink is moving into the municipal WiFi market as a way to hedge its bets against its dying dial-up access business. While Earthlink has had success in moving its legacy dial-up subscribers to DSL, the ISP has not been successful in winning cable partners and has no market share in the cable arena. Earthlink will need to win several citywide contracts if it hopes to fuel subscriber growth with this strategy. If this experiment works, Earthlink could open a new category for the WiFi market: the Metropolitan Virtual Network Operator (MVNO).
For more on Earthlink's move into the municipal WiFi market:
- check out this blog entry