26 April 2006

Earthlink and Municipal networks

I have commented about commercial self-interest related to municipal networks on this blog earlier (see this) and in this recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. So, I will take the liberty of tooting my own horn in light of this article in Business 2.0. To what extent do you think the municpal networks "movement" is driven by unabashed commercial self interest? Or, do you think this is just a red herring and the firms who are profitting from this phenomenon are doing so as a by product of an overall social good?

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1 comment:

KuangChiu Huang said...

From Earthlink perspective, I believe it is a “can not but” choice to engage in WiFi infrastructure. It’s all about survival, but a rugged way is in front of Earthlink.

To build a wired broadband network (cable modem, DSL and FTTX) is infeasible in current context, but other broadband technologies (BPL and WiMAX) are restricted or not mature. Therefore, WiFi with low deployment cost, short build-out period and no upfront cost of the unlicensed spectrum could be the solution to save this firm. Roll-out WiFi networks as quickly as possible might be the strategy to achieve its goals in shortening the learning curve, pursuing for economies of scale, and enhancement of bargain power. However, there is no suitable solution for interference problem to promise certain level of transmission speeds. Even 802.11n with MIMO technology can not guarantee QoS in a rough radio environment. If this problem can not be solved in one or two years, metropolitan WiFi could be a hype and dismayed financial performance of Earthlink might be expected.

From equipment vendor perspective, municipal broadband is an opportunity to boost their revenue. They would promote their product and solutions as much as they could. If WiFi is not workable for metropolitan area network (MAN) finally, it can work in suburban or rural areas. In addition, WiMAX, 3G, 3.5G and 4G are ready to be the next solution.

I believe wireless could be a solution for broadband access, but a guarantee of certain level transmission speeds is necessary to prevent low ROI project.