Philly gets 11th hour WiFi save

Philadelphia's mayor is expected to announce today the 11th-hour save of the city's muni-WiFi network, which was shut down by EarthLink. According to industry analyst Craig Settles, head of Successful.com, Councilman Bill Green felt the network was a vital asset to the city so he initiated contact with potential investors back in May. Private investors structured a deal in which they are creating a company to finish and operate the network. The network will offer fee-based wired and wireless services for businesses such as the city's healthcare and college communities.

Philadelphia itself has the option to create RFPs for wireless and wired broadband services and the company will be invited along with other eligible providers to bid on the RFPs. The City could potentially become the network's largest customer. Wireless Philadelphia will have the same digital inclusion mission, though how it tackles this mission may change as a result of the new company's involvement. Basic WiFi service will be available to the general public for free wherever within Philly they can access it, but the service won't be supported by the provider or the city, Settles said.

In May, EarthLink pulled the plug on its $17 million municipal WiFi network in Philadelphia after failing to reach an agreement with the city to take over the network.

Stay tuned to FierceWireless for more on the topic.

Related stories:
No deal: EarthLink pulls plug on Philly WiFi. Philly WiFi story
How hard did EarthLink try to help its muni-WiFi customers? EarthLink editorial

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