By Carla Branch and James Cullum
The Alexandria City Council has authorized City Manager Jim Hartmann to sign an agreement terminating the City’s agreement with EarthLink to provide citywide wireless access. Under the original agreement made in December 2006, EarthLink would have invested $1.9 million in the initial capital deployment of the wireless network. Since then, EarthLink’s new Chief Executive officer eliminated the company’s municipal wireless division because of service and quality issues. After many delays, EarthLink eventually notified the City that it no longer intended to proceed with the wireless project in Alexandria.
To avoid the cost of litigation, the City negotiated an agreement with EarthLink, that includes the following terms: a one-time payment to the City of $100,000; the transfer of 50 of EarthLink’s unused wireless routers, and related equipment, totaling $120,000; and the termination of the original franchise and related right-of-way agreements, ensuring that neither the City nor EarthLink will make any further claims against the other. The City will receive total compensation of $220,000 in money and equipment and there will be no cost to the taxpayers.
Because of the new economics of installing a citywide wireless network, there are no current plans to proceed with a new franchise agreement with another company. However, the pilot wireless Alexandria coverage area along the lower King Street pedestrian corridor remains operational.