Long Island Business News reports that E-Path's efforts to build a Wi-Fi network in Suffolk, Nausau counties so far for naught: As yours obedient has been reporting for months, the E-Path proposal accepted by the county executives of those two Long Island entities was long on minimizing political fallout, short on providing the kind of baseline financial commitment that has turned out to be essential in getting a wireless network built. The only networks being built or completed in the country right now have municipal service commitments--anchor tenancy--or were fully funded by municipalities for public safety and governmental purposes.
As the reporter notes, E-Path hadn't previously completed any network, and its in-progress networks are rather small. The company hasn't been able to secure any commitments from any municipalities for service, and, you guessed it, utility poles are a sticking point: E-Path hasn't gotten an agreement from the Long Island Power Authority to use its poles. The two pilot projects were supposed to be installed last December, but this article reports no progress.
Without anchor tenants, it's hard to raise money. It's hard to get anchor tenants if you don't have money raised to build out at this point; that wasn't true earlier. This is the same situation in all startup cycles. Early startups get optimistic customers who hope to be ahead of the curve, and are willing to be guinea pigs. With the inability of large-scale Wi-Fi networks to be completed--in some cases, even started--there's less interest in being the exceptional case.
Long Island's Suffolk and Nausau county executives have well insulated themselves from any problems with this network not being built, because they didn't invest in it. Which makes it fairly likely that the network will never be built.
Wi-Fi Networking News friend Craig Plunkett is quoted in the article; he runs a variety of hotspots and networks around the island, but didn't bid on this network. He uses an argument I'm fond of: "Any kind of dashboard diner or mobile worker is more inclined to go to a Starbucks than they are to use an outdoor location, unless their work specifically requires them to connect outdoors. So that further erodes the available market for E-Path."
This is my backside-utility thesis. If you're doing more than making a phone call or looking up some data while mobile (in a cab, on public transportation, as a passenger in a car, or while walking), then you need a place to sit down and work. Most places you sit down and work already have Wi-Fi. If you need more than that today, you buy a data subscription for your smartphone (or already have one) for $20 to $60 per month, or buy a laptop card with 3G data for $60 to $80 per month. If you don't want to spend that much money, you don't really need the data while out and about.
E-Path also has the disturbing property of having borrowed the Microsoft Internet Explorer logo used before version 8 was released as the fundamental basis of their corporate identity (IE left, E-Path logo right). They added another ring. Given IE's reputation for security, reliability, and standards, it might have been the wrong graphic to choose, trademark issues aside.