5:52 PM ET 10/04/05
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.
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
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.
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
is much bigger than
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.
Neff said up to
30 percent of
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.
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