Philly OKs test area for Wi-Fi access

Move marks next step toward citywide access

Philadelphia recently moved a step closer to making affordable Wi-Fi accessible to all its citizens, by creating a test zone within the city.

Mayor John Street announced that the city's Wireless Philadelphia project has approved a 15-square-mile Wi-Fi proof-of-concept area that extends east of the Schuylkill River and north of the Vine Street Expressway.

Wireless Philadelphia is a nonprofit organization the city created to make high-speed Internet access more available and affordable to neighborhoods throughout the city.

The nonprofit agency selected EarthLink, an Internet service provider, to finance, build, operate and maintain the citywide wireless network.

The approval late last month gives EarthLink the green light to build the rest of the 135-square-mile Wi-Fi mesh network, which is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2007.

EarthLink will update its map of WiFi coverage at www.emnwifi.net/cities/
philadelphia/ as it becomes available.

Almost 300,000 households and businesses will have access to the network by the end of May, said Donald Berryman, president of EarthLink Municipal Networks.

Philadelphians who sign up for EarthLink Wi-Fi will receive download and upload speeds of 1 megabit/sec for $6.95 a month for the first six months. The price increases to $19.95 a month after that. EarthLink is also offering city residents a speedier option. For $9.95 for the first six months, users can download data from the Wi-Fi network at speeds of 3 Mbps; the price goes up to $21.95 per month after the first six months.

EarthLink is making the Wi-Fi network available for free in some areas of Philadelphia, including Norris Square, Love Park, the Historic District and Capitolo Playground in South Philly, near the city's two most famous cheesesteak places, Geno's and Pat's.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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