5:52 PM ET 10/04/05

Earthlink to build Philadelphia wireless network

NEW YORK, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Internet service provider EarthLink Inc. plans to build a city-wide wireless network for Philadelphia to provide residents and businesses with Internet access, according to the company.

EarthLink will spend about $10 million to $14 million to build the network that will include equipment from Motorola Inc. and privately held Tropos Networks, according to Philadelphia's Chief Information Officer, Dianah Neff.

The city chose EarthLink over Hewlett-Packard Co. , which was also short-listed from a group of 12 companies that offered proposals for the project. Analysts said the deal could open up a new growth opportunity for EarthLink.

"Strategically its very important. From a financial perspective, its not enough to move the needle in the short term," said Jefferies analyst Youssef Squali, who estimated that at least another 20 U.S. cities are looking at similar projects.

If Philadelphia is a success, it could help EarthLink win some of these contracts, independent telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan said in an e-mail.

"This win is much bigger than Philadelphia for EarthLink because if they do a good job there are countless other metro areas who would hire them to do the same thing," Kagan said.

Philadelphia was one of the first of many U.S. cities to look at building municipal wireless networks, mainly to encourage economic growth and provide affordable Web access to poorer residents.

Some municipal plans, which essentially compete with incumbent services, have created friction with telephone and cable providers. The Mayor of San Francisco has said he was bracing for a battle with telephone and cable companies as his city plans to offer free or low-cost municipal services.

Philadelphia plans to offer free Internet access in public spaces such as parks, covering about 10 percent of the city, but outside of these areas, monthly subscriptions will cost from $10 to $20.

Neff said up to 30 percent of Philadelphia's 560,000 households, or 1.5 million people, may qualify for the cheaper rate of $10, with others being charged $20 a month.

The idea is part of a plan to boost the City's economy by educating residents and transforming rundown neighborhoods where sometimes there are no wires in the ground for Web access.

"We believe that affordable access to the Internet will help us do so. To be a city of the 21st century you need to have your populace able to use Internet," Neff said.

EarthLink said the network, which will cover 135 square miles, will be the biggest municipal wireless project in the country when it is completed about a year from now.

It will also manage the network and is expected to recoup the costs by charging other Web services wholesale rates to offer services using its network, according to Neff who said EarthLink would share some revenue with the city.

The service will be based on a series of interconnected "hotspots" based on Wi-Fi, a short-range radio technology popular among laptop computer users in public venues, such as coffee shops. About 75 percent of the network will be wireless with some wireline backhaul Internet links.




Cliff – Work





WISPA Wireless List:



Reply via email to