Earthlink has announced that it will drastically scale back its ambitious municipal Wi-Fi efforts after finding that wiring an entire city is much costlier than it anticipated.
It's already faltering in Philadelphia, where it was chosen to deploy a 135-square-mile network for the city, and just a tenth of the project is complete, reports Ars Technica.
It also pulled out of negotiations with Chicago in late August, causing the city to scrap the project altogether.
And it's just not Earthlink that's realizing municipal Wi-Fi is a bigger-than-expected endeavor: even Silicon Valley is having trouble raising cash for a 1-square-mile pilot network in what is a test phase for an ambitious 1,500-square mile plan to blanket some 40 towns.
Meanwhile, municipal Wi-Fi advocate Craig Settles says cities need to commit their own dollars to these networks as a way to improve business and local government operations, instead of viewing it as a free, ad-supported consumer-centric application.
He cites the success that Corpus Christi, TX has had building out a 55-square-mile network for city workers that offers access to residents for as little as $6.95 a month.