RESEARCH TRAINGLE PARK, N.C. – Some of our recent commentaries about the demise of municipal wireless fidelity (WiFi) networks are premature, an analyst working on WiFi projects wrote in a recent note to The Skinny.

The peg for our comments has been EarthLink’s financial restructuring and the Internet Service Provider’s decision to pull back on its WiFi efforts. Major projects in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago are in trouble.

However, Jim Aimone, a consultant who is working in the WiFi space on municipal, on “muni” for short, projects, says WiFi is going strong elsewhere.

“Sorry, you are reading to much national media on this EartLlink flame out,” Aimone wrote. “The Wireless Mesh Metro market is healthy and will survive as Muni begin to select the technology as well as the provider.

“Earthlink stuck with a 1st generation product (Tropos one radio mesh)that caused them to overrun their business case/model when their deployments went from 20 Nodes/Sq Mile to 40 Nodes/Sq Mile to cover an area. The rest of the excuses are just spin.”

In other words, better technology solutions that are less expensive are available. Aimone sees more “muni” efforts coming as a result.

As for our suggestion that the WiFi challenges could mean a boost for WiMax, which has longer range, Aimone has a different view.

“The WiMAX networks being planned are based on a spectrum (2.5Ghz) that will cause them problems in many Urban and all rural markets where foliage appears-2.5Ghz will not penetrate foliage-PERIOD,” he said. “So they will need an alternative to operate below the trees in urban markets and that will be the Mesh Networks.

“Also, all this will be mute come 2010 when 3rd parties who win the new 700Mhz spectrum begin deploying their new Wireless Broadband services. WiMAX, unless it incorporates the 700Mhz radios will be sidelined and Mesh Networks will be primarily used for Video Surveillance and other very high speed services.”

This 700Mhz spectrum has drawn considerable interest from Google, which is likely to bid against big carriers such as AT&T for rights to that bandwidth. Frontline, which is based in Greensboro, also has plans to build a nationwide network in that space.

By the way, Aimone has more than five years of experience in broadband wireless and is a strategic analyst and planner. You can contact him at: