The AP ran a short story this morning that made it sound like EarthLink was about to pull back from the metro-scale Wi-Fi market: This was tied in with EarthLink's latest earnings, which show a net loss of customers, and additional losses on their books from Helio, a joint venture with SK Telecom to gain mobile phone and data customers in the US. I read the story as if EarthLink wouldn't respond to new requests for proposals (RFPs) from cities while it analyzed its existing network performance, but EarthLink spokesperson Jerry Grasso says that's not the case.
In email, Grasso noted that EarthLink is turning inwards to look at the current network buildouts to "to ensure we are delivering what we've promised to the cities, residents and users of the networks." At the same time, they'll keep analyzing RFPs to see if they meet their parameters.
This strikes me as in line with MetroFi's recent move to require anchor tenancy on networks that they build in cities with free, ad-supported access for residents and visitors. EarthLink might be tightening the requirements they have, which have been among the highest in the industry already. Recall that EarthLink didn't bid on Wireless Silicon Valley, but submitted a note that the number of houses passed didn't meet their threshold.
Update: InfoWorld offers a little more detail, in which it seems EarthLink is talking about not replying to small cities' RFPs, more than anything else. I suppose Anaheim would be out of the running today if EarthLink weren't already building it out. InfoWorld also reports EarthLink has just 2,000 monthly subscribers nationally, but none of its networks are yet mature.
And they're cutting their capital expenditures on Wi-Fi in half--which is a little tricky, because many of their largest projects are still in the buildout phase, so I'd expect a much larger capital commitment this year than last year. We'll see how that plays out.