Gavin Newsom and the president of the city's board of supervisors stuck a free wireless resolution on the ballot five minutes before the deadline: The measure is nonbinding, but asks voters whether they support the notion of free wireless throughout the city. It also asks if they'd like free ice cream and a pony.
The existing contract with EarthLink was already unlikely to move forward due to EarthLink's business model changes. The emendations to the contract requested by the supervisors' head ensure that EarthLink will ultimately back out. I give it another four to six weeks before the whole deal is over.
Which means that SF has to return to the drawing board. Kite Networks is undercapitalized (per their disclosures on their recent spinoff) to take on a task like SF without outside financing. Cisco, IBM, and Intel are tied up with their Wireless Silicon Valley (Cisco/IBM) and Sacramento (Cisco/Intel) consortiums. MetroFi wants an upfront commitment of service revenue, which doesn't seem in the cards, and it appears rather busy with Portland, Ore., and several other cities. US Internet is tied up in Minneapolis. There's no other firms of scale involved in bidding on and winning contracts like this except Clearwire, which isn't building out Wi-Fi.