EarthLink’s role in San Francisco hangs in the balance

San Francisco’s proposed municipal Wi-Fi network has been pushed back again, this time at the request of EarthLink, the provider tapped to build it. The company asked the city’s board of supervisors to delay a vote scheduled this week until at least September. That’s after the company’s board of directors is expected to review its future direction in the municipal wireless market.

The Board of Supervisors was scheduled to vote on a series of amendments that board President Aaron Peskin requested to address objections that fellow board members had with the city’s negotiated contract with EarthLink. The Washington Post reports that the vote has been pushed back to the board’s September 12 meeting. A vote on whether the network should be exempt from an environmental impact report was pushed back to Sept. 11.

EarthLink’s earnings call this week puts a whole new complexion on the deadlock in San Francisco. In that call, CEO Rolla P. Huff insisted it was time for “municipal government to step up and become a meaningful anchor tenant on completion of a build.” There were no such commitments negotiated in San Francisco. EarthLink has already made much noise about backing away from ad model on which the San Francisco contract was largely based.

EarthLink’s board is scheduled to meet later this month. I suspect I’m not going too far out on a limb in predicting that the directors will propose a few amendments of their own if the company is to proceed at all in San Francisco.

Click here to read the story in The Washington Post.

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