City Wide Wi-Fi for Philadelphia Residents

Dennis Faas's picture

In a strange but visionary move, the city of Philadelphia re-started a plan to offer free out-of-doors wireless access throughout the city. The project was initially planned for 2005, but stopped production last week after complaints of signal weaknesses.

The original project, run by EarthLink, also suffered from "cost overruns, spotty coverage, rapidly rising expenses, and unenthusiastic acceptance by paying subscribers." At that time 6,000 of the city's 1.4 million citizens had registered for the service. (Source:

The current project consists of wireless transmitters attached to light poles around the city and would service 135 square miles. The project has received additional funding by its new parent, the Network Acquisition Company (NAC). (Source:

Concerned that they would lose the opportunity to have city-wide WiFi the NAC is a group of investors committed to reviving the program. The leader of the NAC said in a statement, "We felt that the unique business and community opportunities that would be made possible by ubiquitous WiFi coverage in Philadelphia more than justified the additional investment needed to complete the network build, so we set out to bring together a group of local investors and businesspeople to keep the vision of Wireless Philadelphia alive."

It is not clear how the project is financed. Individuals can purchase a $200 device to bring the signal inside buildings, which could conceivably be split among several people. There is no information about the cost to the individual. The original plan required Philadelphians register, but it is not know if they had to pay a one-time start-up fee. The company also hopes to make money by getting businesses to purchase technology which would allow employees to remotely access corporate networks through the new system. It seems that the bulk of the cost will be borne by corporate customers, whose contributions would help provide infrastructure to distribute the signal to, importantly, lower-income areas. (Source:

There is no indication when this service might become available, as much more assessment and financial assistance is needed to implement the scheme. If it comes to fruition, however, it will not only be a convenient service, but an excellent privately-operated social service for those who can't regularly access the Internet.

| Tags:
Rate this article: 
No votes yet