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Philadelphia as a Wi-Fi Case Study
New report reviews the history of the developing system
by KathrynV 11:09AM Sunday Dec 16 2007
When discussing the state of municipal Wi-Fi in Philadelphia, the conversation is almost always about whether or not Earthlink is going to hold up its end of the deal and build out the system. (That seems unlikely in the face of their recent Philly no-show.) However, The Ethos Group has taken a broader view of Philadelphia’s municipal wireless system. They’ve published a 64-page report (pdf) which reviews the entire history of the system.
quote:
“This report examines how Philadelphia’s municipal wireless initiative helped shape the national debate regarding the need for public broadband infrastructure and the impact the project’s successes and failures had on the local community. The Philadelphia story holds numerous lessons for decision-makers and regulators and is a powerful tool for understanding the interactions between network implementers and the constituencies these networks are supposed to serve.”
MuniWireless.com points out some of the flaws in the report (such as the harsh criticism it places on the plan’s divergence from its original blueprint) and also highlights some of the important issues this reports brings up (including the ongoing debate over public vs. private ownership).

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FFH
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Tavistock NJ
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Philly WiFi a BIG waste of money

Earthlink spent $20 million dollars for at most several thousand customers. No wonder they walked away. They should have RUN away. And is anyone surprised that the MuniWireless web site can't accept any criticism of the muni-wireless business model. It has been a disaster across the country, but this sites whole existence and profits is based on hyping muni wireless systems.

»www.philly.com/philly/news/local···371.html
The firm Philadelphia has retained to build a citywide wireless Internet network has spent millions more than its anticipated costs and cannot say when it will complete the project, City Council members were told yesterday.

In fact, EarthLink Inc. representatives didn't show up for a committee hearing on Wireless Philadelphia. The company's retreat from the municipal-wireless business prompted the hearing. But EarthLink made clear by its absence that it did not want to be peppered with questions in public as it rethinks its business strategy. All that money spent for a few thousand people. What a waste!!

EarthLink said it had spent more than $20 million to establish the broadband wireless service, "in excess of the $12 million to $15 million anticipated by the city and EarthLink at the outset of the project."

The network is substantially built, the company said, but neither EarthLink nor city officials could provide a date for when the system would be completed.

Greg Goldman, CEO of the city-created nonprofit Wireless Philadelphia, said EarthLink's network had "several thousand" subscribers so far.

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pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
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Philadelphia WiFi Proved the Obvious

You would think that any advocacy group that is looking for anything to be backed by the government would actually look into how well local government works in a particular place before insisting it support something.

The ineptness and incompetence of Philadelphia's city government is only overlooked on a national level because of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. Crime is literally out of control. Murder is at record levels. The schools are a joke. The city government on the other hand seems to be more pre-occupied with routing the Boy Scouts out of town and punishing legitimate businessmen for insisting their clientele speak English. This is truly an insult to what is a great city.

Any advocacy group would be better served by picking a city which has a functioning government as a poster child for government-provided Internet.
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howrman

join:2000-07-08
Philadelphia, PA

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Re: Philadelphia WiFi Proved the Obvious

said by pnh102:

Crime is literally out of control. Murder is at record levels. The schools are a joke. The city government on the other hand seems to be more pre-occupied with routing the Boy Scouts out of town and punishing legitimate businessmen for insisting their clientele speak English.
While I'm no apologist for the Street administration, some of your facts are a bit off.

With regard to Wi-fi, Philadelphia has gotten Earthlink to spend $20 million to build a substantial part of the system. While Earthink may not complete the job, if there is a default, the system belongs to the City. And, the whole thing hasn't cost the City a penny. All in all, a very smart deal.

Your statements that crime is "literally out of control" and that murder is "at record levels" are patently false. The Inquirer reported on Thursday that the murder rate is down slightly compared to last year (which was no where near a record). Other violent crime rates are down significantly. »www.philly.com/philly/news/homep···096.html Many people forget that the record murder rate was set during Rizzo's tenure in the 70s. (Other violent crime was probably at record levels then too, but Rizzo fudged the numbers. At the time, folks studying Philadelphia's crime numbers commented that Rizzo couldn't hide the bodies.)

Standardized test scores suggest that Philadelphia's schools are slowly improving. However, since the state has taken control of the schools, the credit or blame for that does not really belong to the City.

A City that is trying to attract foreign tourists does not benefit from having businesses hang signs in their windows telling those visitors that they are not welcome unless they can speak English. Neither does the City benefit from giving free rent to organizations that discriminate against gays and atheists.

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said by pnh102:

Crime is literally out of control. Murder is at record levels. The schools are a joke. The city government on the other hand seems to be more pre-occupied with routing the Boy Scouts out of town and punishing legitimate businessmen for insisting their clientele speak English. This is truly an insult to what is a great city.
Well said. The criminals are now shooting at cops instead of each other. The city government may be the most corrupt in the nation with many of the mayor's friends facing indictment or prison sentences. There has been a mass exodus from the public schools in Philly to the Charter and Parochial Schools. Many law abiding citizens have fled to the suburbs to avoid the drugs and the crime.

Philadelphia made a deal with the Boy Scouts to lease them land "in perpetuity" on which the Scouts built and maintained an historic landmark since 1928 and now suddenly the city wants to use that precious land to build condominiums and offices.

Geno's Steaks has a simple sign "asking" their clientele to order in English and the city has nothing better to do than to sue the businessman for discrimination. The sign reads "This Is America: When Ordering Please Speak English". The owner has never denied service to people who ordered in foreign languages, but he was concerned that if the people didn't order in English they might not get exactly what they ordered.

I never understood why the city was going to implement free WiFi in neighborhoods where the people could barely afford a $10 bag of Heroin let alone a computer. It couldn't be for the payoffs, could it?
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Re: Philadelphia WiFi Proved the Obvious

said by Lone Wolf:

I never understood why the city was going to implement free WiFi in neighborhoods where the people could barely afford a $10 bag of Heroin let alone a computer. It couldn't be for the payoffs, could it?
This just doesn't make sense. Who are you suggesting paid off whom? If Earthlink bribed someone in the City to get the contract, it hasn't worked out as planned. Earthlink stands to lose a truckload of money and the City stands to get a Wifi network for free. If that's the way corrupt government works, I say let's have more of it.

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Re: Philadelphia WiFi Proved the Obvious

said by howrman:

said by Lone Wolf:

I never understood why the city was going to implement free WiFi in neighborhoods where the people could barely afford a $10 bag of Heroin let alone a computer. It couldn't be for the payoffs, could it?
This just doesn't make sense. Who are you suggesting paid off whom? If Earthlink bribed someone in the City to get the contract, it hasn't worked out as planned. Earthlink stands to lose a truckload of money and the City stands to get a Wifi network for free. If that's the way corrupt government works, I say let's have more of it.
No large company does business with the city in Philly without paying people off. Philly has been known as the "Pay-To-Play" city and Earthlink probably contributed more than any other ISP to the mayor and certain city council members for their election campaigns. I can't provide proof but the FBI has been looking into the mayor's office for a few years.

»www.orchardpressmysteries.com/pa···lay.html
Philadelphians are nothing if not proud of our history, so it was no surprise to me that Philadelphia Mayor John Street was recently reelected despite the discovery of a FBI bug in his city hall office shortly before the election. The news of the bug and the subsequent story that his administration was being investigated for illegally issuing city contracts to campaign contributors actually helped invigorate his campaign.

We appear to be corrupt and contented still.

The time-honored tradition of rewarding political contributors with lucrative city contracts, called "Pay-to-Play," is not unique to Philadelphia. Other cities have similar set-ups. As I understand it, giving contracts to contributors is only illegal if its done on a "quid pro quo" (something for something) basis. That is, if you give the mayor a campaign contribution and then just happen to be awarded a contract, thats not a crime. But if there is a stated agreement of cash traded for future contracts, thats a crime.
WiFi will not be free to the city, as I have read where it will cost the city between $11 million and $15 million to implement the WiFi plan. And I'm willing to bet that if the WiFi network is ever completed and Earthlink pulls out of Philly, a friend, relative, or a big campaign contributor of the mayor will be running the system.

nipseyrussel
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join:2002-02-22
Philadelphia, PA

1 edit
said by pnh102:

The city government on the other hand seems to be more pre-occupied with routing the Boy Scouts out of town and punishing legitimate businessmen for insisting their clientele speak English.
the government is not preoccupied with running the boy scouts out of town, they are plenty welcome to stay in town, they just cant continue to squat on public property while having discriminatory membership policies.
Also, wtf on the second point? preoccupied with punishing joey vento?? yeah, the district attorneys are working around the clock on this.

Voyager2K2

join:2001-10-04
Wayne, PA

The End User has no clue

I squarely plop this in Earthlink and it's resellers' lap.
NOBODY understands how the system works but they do understand how Verizon's $14.95/mo DSL works.
Sell the damn system and don't rely on showing up on XP's wireless zero config and sending them a web page which confuses the heck out of the potential customer.
I manage a PC shop in Philly and I will testify that this is the major block to adoption in Philly.