In January, Google and Earthlink signed a contract to set up free high-speed wireless Internet access for the entire city of San Francisco. The deal provided that EarthLink would pay the city $2 million for the right to build, install and run a free Wi-Fi network that would be supported through advertising from Google; Earthlink would also offer a paid subscription that would offer higher speeds and fewer advertisements.
Last week Earthlink announced that it is pulling out of the San Francisco project. Earthlink is going through a financial meltdown and just laid off half its employees. In the last two years Earthlink had entered into a number of contracts for municipal wireless; it’s dissolving or breaking the contracts everywhere, even if that means paying huge penalties, like the $5 million it agreed to pay to Houston as a penalty last week. Here’s an article about the end of the San Francisco project.