EarthLink has apparently finalized its deal with Philadelphia to provide what amounts to wholesale wireless/Wi-Fi access that can then be resold to ISPs (which would then sell to consumers). So this isn’t "free" Wi-Fi, but reportedly EarthLink would only be charging $9 per month as a wholesale rate — so retail costs could wind up being pretty low (given potential competition). Regardless, Philly wants to keep the ultimate costs under $20 for city residents. This is probably the model for municipal Wi-Fi "going foward" (rather than free).
In addition, EarthLink is the latest to launch VoIP. We’re likely to see an accelaration of VoIP adoption late this year or perhaps very early next year.
The MetroFi network also brings a new opportunity for local businesses to reach the community through a truly local internet advertising medium. Customers that are accessing the network will be shown a banner advertisement in the frame of the browser. Local businesses can take advantage of the local and regional nature of the network by providing links to their website, coupons or announcements to those that are guaranteed to be near their establishment.
But here’s a skeptical article that appeared in The Mercury News.
And here’s a totally unrelated development (also per the intrepid folks at SiliconBeat): Sling Media raised a whopping $46 million round of financing:
Sling Media, Inc., a digital lifestyle products company, today announced it closed a $46.6 million round of financing. Goldman, Sachs & Co., Liberty Media Corporation and Echostar Communications led the financing round. Allen & Co. LLC, DCM — Doll Capital Management, Mobius Venture Capital, The Hearst Corporation and other undisclosed investors also participated in the financing …
Sling Media's first product, the Slingbox™, is a breakthrough consumer electronics device that enables consumers to watch their living room TV programming from wherever they are by turning virtually any Internet-connected Windows-based laptop or desktop and any Windows Mobile-based PDA or smartphone into a personal TV. The Slingbox redirects, or "placeshifts," a single live TV stream from a basic cable connection, cable box, satellite receiver or digital video recorder (DVR) to the viewer's PC — located anywhere in the home or anywhere in the world, via the Internet.
Why do we care about this? Because it’s part of two important trends:
1. Fragmentation of the consumer audience and increasing consumer control over media consumption
2. The transformation of TV/video into a targeting medium
Those are themes at this year’s Drilling Down event.