Philly finalizes muni-WiFi plan

The age of muni-WiFi is here. Yes, we already have small towns across the country offering WiFi to residents, typically in downtown and tourist areas, but they are not Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has reached an agreement with EarthLink to turn large parts of the city into a huge WiFi hotspot. The contract calls for the company to own the 135-sq.-mi. network, with EarthLink to pay the city for rights to locate transmitters on city light posts. Details of the 10-year contract were reported earlier this week by city officials. EarthLink will build and maintain the network, but the city's Wireless Philadelphia unit will have a say in its operation.

Wireless Philadelphia will charge a $9 per month wholesale fee to ISPs providing service to end users. Users will be charged less than $20 per month for the service. A 15-sq.-mi. area in the city will first be fitted with the technology to test its feasibility. City officials hope the citywide network can be up and running in the spring of 2007. The Philadelphia muni-WiFi project is also noticeable because a coalition of cable and telephone providers--aware of the importance of a big city offering WiFi services--engaged in a pitched legal and political battle to derail the plan. The state of Pennsylvania also approved legislation which sought to block public involvement in projects similar to the Philadelphia effort.

For more on the Philadelphia plan:
- see David Gardner's InfoWeek report

PLUS: Citywide WiFi in Chicago is closer than you think. Article

ALSO: Read Glenn Fleishman discussion on advertising-supported muni-WiFi.

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