Philadelphia's long and sordid trip through the muni WiFi market has all the twists and turns of a good murder mystery. The city was the scene in 2007 of a blockbuster proposal by EarthLink to build and operate a city-wide WiFi network that would be free to residents, an effort that sparked the imaginations of dozens of other city planners.
However, the movement collapsed shortly thereafter, following EarthLink's discovery that municipal WiFi was not the cash cow it apparently thought it was.
The Philly WiFi network EarthLink built remained in limbo until a group of investors working under the auspices of Network Acquisition Company (NAC) purchased it for an undisclosed amount in June 2008.
"NAC will initially focus on evaluating and improving the acquired Tropos-based WiFi network by tuning its performance for outdoor access, expanding coverage areas and assessing the future build out of the network's current footprint," the group said in a press release at the time. "This initial phase will take the shape of refining and rebuilding the network architecture to be consistent with the new business model that will use WiFi to extend the reach of wired networks rather than competing with them. It is expected that this initial phase will take several months to complete."
Is there a happy ending for the twisted tale of Philly's muni WiFi adventures? Unfortunately, details are scarce at this time. When questioned about the status of the network, Vince Powers, a spokesman for NAC, said earlier this month that "we are going to hold off on any interviews for the time being." He did not provide any further details.
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