Earthlink's muni Wi-Fi pain may be Houston's gain
Earthlink paid Houston $5 million after failing to meet contractual obligations to build the network last August. That money may be used to jumpstart the municipal Wi-Fi project once again.
Houston was an unfortunate casualty of Earthlink's sudden exit from municipal Wi-Fi, a initiative it once considered the future of the company. It was said that the entire network would require approximately $50 million to build out.
When the company could not produce, under the terms of the contract it was penalized by the city. The exit left the Texas city's plans to offer wireless Internet access throughout the city in limbo until Monday of this week,
At that time, Mayor Bill White announced the city would use about $3.5 million of that money to continue its plans, aiming to build 10 "bubbles" in low-income areas. This will be used to provide Internet access to those that could otherwise not afford it.
The first of these wireless hotspots appeared on Monday in the Gulfton section, in the southwest portion of the city. White said a committee was convening to determine where the other nine hotspots will be located.
Full citywide Wi-Fi is not completely dead either. The mayor said the city is also looking into methods to connect the various bubbles together to provide access to areas not covered under this initial rollout.