The City of Philadelphia has chosen EarthLink
to develop and implement the City's WiFi broadband network.
"In selecting EarthLink, Wireless Philadelphia
moves one step closer to fulfilling its charter to strengthen the City's economy and transform Philadelphia's neighborhoods by providing high-speed, low-cost wireless access throughout the City," stated Dianah Neff, Wireless Philadelphia Acting Board Chair. "The EarthLink partnership is an unprecedented public/private partnership to provide wireless broadband access, as well as new and exciting future products in Philadelphia."
EarthLink will implement a 135-square-mile, city-wide WiFi mesh network, which is expected to be fully operational by the fourth quarter of 2006. The network is intended to provide:
- Inexpensive, high-speed Internet access;
- Open access for multiple, competing service providers;
- Roaming capabilities for providers of hot spot access;
- Free Internet access in some parks and public spaces;
- Daily and weekly access for occasional users and visitors;
- Small business connectivity and serve as a wireless T-1 alternative.
Under the terms of the proposal, no City or taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the project. EarthLink will finance, build and manage the wireless network, and provide Wireless Philadelphia with revenue sharing fees to help support the Wireless Philadelphia Non-Profit Corporation.
"The two parties have reached agreement on the major business terms of the contract and are working to complete a definitive agreement within the next 60 days," said Donald Berryman, president, EarthLink Municipal Networks. "Initially, we will construct a 15-square-mile proof of concept area, and upon completion of the testing phase, Wireless Philadelphia and EarthLink will begin building out the remainder of the City's wireless network."
EarthLink will also help Wireless Philadelphia promote 'digital inclusion,' a cornerstone of the project -- which is a program to offer certain qualifying Philadelphia residents discounted Internet access at approximately $10.00 per month. For other subscribers to the network, EarthLink anticipates retail rates to be approximately $20.00 per month.