Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street recently announced the details of the City's "Wireless Philadelphia" Business Plan. Joining Mayor Street at the City Hall press conference were members of the Wireless Philadelphia Executive Committee, the architects of the plan.
In 2004, when Mayor Street appointed the diverse 17-person committee, members were charged with developing a public-private partnership to provide wireless Internet access throughout the city. Key goals were to promote economic development, help overcome the digital divide and to improve the quality of life for every resident, business owner and visitor.
"To successfully compete in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, world-class cities must position themselves on the cutting edge of technology," Mayor Street said. "Today, we are taking an historic step to make Philadelphia a more attractive and appealing city in which to live, work and visit."
Mayor Street also announced the formation of "Wireless Philadelphia," a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation, and issued the release of the nonprofit's Request for Proposals (RFP). It is available for download at www.phila.gov/wireless and www.phila.gov/rfp.
"The Wireless Philadelphia Executive Committee has done an excellent job of building a plan to lay the foundation for Philadelphia as a Digital City and to make broadband affordable for everyone," said Dianah Neff, Philadelphia's Chief Information Officer. "The benefits of this transformative technology are broad and far-reaching. I am extremely proud of the work they have done and look forward to helping implement their proposal on behalf of the Mayor."
The Committee's report made the following key recommendations:
Create a nonprofit corporation to manage the deployment of the wireless network - The Committee recommended a non-profit corporation be established to oversee the implementation of the proposal. The non-profit will receive its start-up funding from foundation grants, bank loans and other non-city sources. Within four years, the non-profit is projected to be debt free and generating positive cash flow.
Have private companies design, deploy and manage the network - Through a request for proposal (RFP) process, the non-profit will outsource the design, deployment and management of a citywide wireless network.
Provide network access to private service providers at low wholesale prices - The non-profit will make access to the wireless network available to private Service Providers (SPs), institutions and other nonprofits at low wholesale prices. Individuals and businesses will be able to purchase broadband access from these parties at what had been dial-up prices. There are currently at least 430 dial-up Internet service providers who operate in Philadelphia. SP's will be responsible for marketing the service, billing subscribers and providing customer service and technical support.
Critical to the "Wireless Philadelphia" proposal announced today is how this initiative will help conquer the economic and social disadvantage experienced by those without affordable access to technology, known as the "digital divide." Government has long worked to ensure key infrastructure be made available to its citizens, such as the deployment of electricity and phone services. Philadelphia's proposal will help low-income and disadvantaged individuals and businesses gain unprecedented access to technology.
"Cities all over America are envious of Philadelphia's head start on this important 21 st century initiative and they are working feverishly to catch up," Mayor Street added. "We are on the right path. We have set the right priorities. I invite all of our friends in the private sector to lend us your support and expertise. Together we can make "Wireless Philadelphia" realize its full potential and expand the economic growth opportunities for our City and region."
About Wireless Philadelphia
Wireless Philadelphia is a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation that promotes economic development and social enhancement in the City of Philadelphia through the