GCN Insider: EarthLink WiFi, in short

GCN editors appreciate insightful conversation unsullied by marketing speak. So thank you, Cole Reinwand, director of next-generation broadband at EarthLink Inc., for a good talk about the company's recent success in winning bids to build municipal wireless networks in Philadelphia and Anaheim, Calif. (The company is also a finalist in Minneapolis and answered the request for information in San Francisco.)

To its great credit, EarthLink, which has struggled with incumbent broadband pro- viders to offer service over their lines, will let ISPs sell service over EarthLink's WiFi networks. Even Comcast (which has resisted opening up its broadband cable lines)? 'Sure,' Reinwand said, 'we've talked to several about it.' What if Comcast or Verizon decide to build out WiFi itself? 'It's a concern,' Reinwand said. Doesn't Verizon offer DSL in Philly for less than Philly plans to sell WiFi access? Yes, Reinwald said, but that service comes with strings attached (very true).

In short, EarthLink sees building WiFi networks as a way of better controlling its own destiny. The company has a solid reputation for service, so the more choices the better.

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