While the contract has been signed, apparently, the test network won't be in place until April: One of the big questions about new municipal wireless network has been--how quick? EarthLink won the exclusive right (i.e., a franchise) from Anaheim to install a citywide network across the town's 50 square miles. The contract is for 10 years with two five-year extensions possible.
EarthLink will spend $5 million to build the network and will pay fees for rights of way, although an earlier percentage-based fee appears to have been dropped. A percentage of gross revenue is sometimes levied for cable franchises. The city pays bupkes, while city schools and libraries will get discounted service.
A Time Warner Cable spokesperson says in this article that the company has offered "wireless service" for several years. In what capacity, I wonder? There are some Time Warner Cable sponsored locations that I've seen and heard about, but nothing comprehensive that I'm aware of.
The Q&A at the end includes an inaccurate statement by an analyst. The JupiterResearch analyst Ina Sebastian is quoted saying, that despite EarthLink's "strong security program," "in the end, it has the same security weaknesses that home Wi-Fi networks have" because knowledgeable hackers are able to break into such security systems.
This is incorrect. EarthLink will be using EAP-TTLS, a method of encrypting a user name and password across an open Wi-Fi network to obtain a unique WEP or WPA password for the particular adapter or Wi-Fi bridge (customer premises equipment or CPE device). Because EAP-TTLS will be used for external connections, there's no known risk factor between the adapter and the nodes. The nodes use encrypted communication among themselves.
The only point of risk is in the home, but with service providers selling CPEs with EAP-TTLS, they will probably also sell easily configurable home Wi-Fi gateways to an audience that doesn't yet have Wi-Fi because they don't yet have broadband, either. (Some folks will downgrade in speed from DSL or cable to municipal-scale Wi-Fi.)