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« Phone-Based Remote Control Software Adds More Wi-Fi Support | Main | Wee-Fi: San Diego Trains, Aberdeen Muni-Fi »

May 12, 2007

SF Gets City Controller Nod on Wi-Fi Benefits

The San Francisco controller's office sees substantial cost savings to residents with EarthLink network: The office, which the SF Chronicle says acts as an auditing arm, sees $9m to $18m in yearly savings for residents due to the option of choosing EarthLink over other broadband services. One supervisor noted that a city-owned system would provide even greater benefits, however. EarthLink won approval this week for access to light poles, one of the last hurdles in moving forward.


Eathlink only has 2,000 wifi subscribers nationwide people aren't generally dropping their wired connections.

Also the controller uses $35 for the cost of DSL vs $10/20 as a result of the AT&T merger

[Editor's note: EarthLink has nothing like a mature (or even built-out) market, so the current subscriber base can't be seen as a predictor. I'll be looking for numbers after they have a significant part of a major city in place.

The AT&T merger deal doesn't offer $10/$20 DSL connections across the board -- it requires naked DSL and a very low speed connection for those rates, and there are market limitations, too, about where they're offered. And DSL isn't universally available in San Francisco.--gf]

For other subscriber figures, get them from Tempe Az WAZMetro solution - again the results are the same - people aren't dropping their wired connections. Muni Wifi makes no difference to the vast majority of citizens - they want a reliable wired connection at home.

Naked DSL is not required. The rate for AT&T DSL will be 10 (not naked)/20 (naked) at a rate of 768k (not very low speed)-

What areas of SF don't have DSL today (it may be no longer the case)?
This was part of a legally binding commitment that AT&T gave the FCC
to get approval to swallow BellSouth. This is a 30 month commitment;
the clock starts ticking within 12 months from the merger.

cf page 7 of

[Editor's note: I don't mean to split hairs here. If you look in the archives on this site, I have reported on every account of low early subscriber numbers. I was talking about metropolitan areas and Anaheim in terms of subscribership, and EarthLink (not Kite/WAZ's) initial networks. Wi-Fi Metro's early networks don't resemble what they're doing in Portland, either. Tempe is a large network, to be sure, and lessons can be drawn--but I wouldn't generalize yet.

There are large in SF that can't get decent rate DSL; it may be that they can all now get the $10 per month 768 Kpbs. I read the agreement again: the merger deal does cover the combined area; I was thinking there were certain areas that weren't included. 768 Kbps isn't fast at all, especially when metro-scale networks are being designed to offer 1 Mbps up and down versus 768 Kbps down and 128 Kbps for $10 per month from AT&T. Outside of AT&T territory, pricing isn't quite as good except where competition exists, and it's often for 3 to 6 months at a lower price before jumping to a much higher price.

You do have a point -- I'm not trying to prented you don't "anon" -- but with a handful of networks built, I don't think conclusions can yet be drawn. Soon enough, they can.

In a separate comment (not posted), you note Taipei. Again, different circumstances than the networks being built in the US. The Taipei network underperformed and has had to be densified with additional nodes, and they sold the network on the idea of providing VoIP over Wi-Fi, which is still in trials. The early numbers are extremely poor, I agree.--gf]

Also on the access to light poles - only the agreement with SF PUC (a city/county agency) was completed.

Not with the private electrical company PG&E which as we know, has been the area of dispute at in other rollouts.

One problem w/ the $10/mo. deal is it requires totally new service, so that leaves out any current ATT DSL subscribers switching to save money.

Also, I had a recent exchange w/ the FCC concerning the $10 price and sent the following off to two business columnists of the S. F. Chronicle a few days ago asking for their opinion since attempting to make sense of the document(s) at the FCC given link seems to require more patience and law experience than I have.

I haven't received a response back from either columnist yet.

===================== To SF Chronicle

If I remember correctly, one of the provisions of the ATT/BellSouth merger, one of the provisions was to offer low-cost $10.00/mo. minimum DSL service for a number of months for new subscribers ( see here: ).

I've checked ATT's site occasionally and only seen a $14.00/mo. price offered.

The other day I sent a msg. off to the FCC asking about that provision:

From: [ removed ]
Subject: ATT DSL Charges ???
Date: April 27, 2007 4:37:59 PM PDT
Security: Signed


I called your 888 contact number but the voice tree was obtusely long and I eventually got cut off.

I'm curious about ATT and their DSL charges.

I thought I had read that as an agreement to SBC taking over BellSouth that they had to offer basic DSL service for at least a year for $10/mo., yet when I got to the ATT ( xSBC ) site to order DSL months after the takeover has happened their minimum charge is still $14/mo.

When does the requirement go into effect and/or when will they be held to what they agreed to ( they already have a history of ignoring agreements from a few years ago - the deal for faster access for less regulation - and lack of enforcement thereof )?

Thanks for your time and help in these matters.

[ removed ]

Today I received this response:

Subject: [ removed ] - FCC Consumer Center response from representative [ removed ]
Date: May 4, 2007 8:46:08 AM PDT
To: [ removed ]

You are receiving this email in response to your inquiry to the FCC.

Dear Mr. [ removed ],

I am sorry but there is no time line for that agreement. You can review the Public Notice on our website at

Rep Number : [ removed ]

I'm not sure I understand that response. Does it mean that again the phone companies have made promises and concessions that they do not intend to keep for approval from a government that doesn't intend to enforce their provisions?

Thanks for your time and help in this matter.

[ removed ]