The city council of Corpus Christi will move Tuesday night to resume control from EarthLink of its Wi-Fi network: The network was originally built by the city to support municipal purposes, such as meter reading, and was sold to EarthLink for $5.3m plus $340,000 in other revenues, the local paper reports. The sale was reported back in March 2007 as a way for the city to gain better coverage without investing their own money and recoup some of their expense. EarthLink did complete the network in August, but its future--like all of EarthLink's municipal efforts--is completely uncertain. EarthLink is likely to sell, shut down, or abandon all its municipal networks based on statements over the last several months.
Corpus Christi, if it resumes ownership of the network, wouldn't operate ubiquitous public access Wi-Fi, however. It would focus on nine areas of free service currently in place, which could expand in the future; municipal uses would continue.
EarthLink would avoid paying $1.59m remaining in its contract, but the city would get improvements that total $1.76m, as well as $830,000 in additional equipment that were used in building out the network. Yearly operating costs are reported here as $50,000, which seems insanely low. Perhaps with only municipal purposes, there's no backhaul cost. But radios die and equipment needs to be moved. I would expect a cost in the hundreds of thousands for a 147 sq mi network.