Basically, Earthlink says they can’t make a profit from the kind of contract that is being negotiated with San Francisco. For Earthlink to make money from “free” municipal WiFi they need the municipality itself to a sign long-term contract to use Earthlink services. Earthlink calls such a municipality an “anchor tenant.”
Earthlink's announcement makes the entire process look like a bad faith effort, possibly on the parts of both Mayor Newsom and Earthlink, to sign a quickie contract and work out the (expensive) details later.
Newsom wanted a cool-sounding resume item. A number of public-commenters hauled in to a Supes Committee meeting said they needed “WiFive,” which sounds cooler yet.
With the Earthlink deal all but defunct, we’ll see if our mayor has a Plan-B for bridging the digital divide.