Wireless Philadelphia has finalized its agreement with EarthLink for a 135-square-mile wireless broadband system covering the entire city, according to reports from the Philadelphia Inquirer and Information Week. Aside from the length of EarthLink’s commitment–10 yearsÃ¢â?¬â??and the $9 monthly wholesale fee (presumably per user) EarthLink will charge ISPs providing service, few details of the agreement were disclosed. There still is no information about retail pricing, technical and security specifications, bandwidth requirements, or what penalties, if any, EarthLink will face if it fails to complete build out by the proposed completion date of spring 2007. EarthLink expects the system to cost between $10 million and $15 million. Still, the city is no closer to its wireless system than it was last week. The EarthLink contract for Wireless Philadelphia must still be approved by the Philadelphia City Council, which has raised questions about the pole attachment fees and other right-of-way concessions that EarthLink is receiving. There is legitimate concern that if any these fees have been discounted, the city may be legally obliged to offer all other utilities the same discount. Either way, the political mechanisms have already caused delay. In its Feb 1 print edition, Wireless Week reports that CIO Dianah Neff had hoped the city council would vote on the agreement in December. The vote now may not reach the floor until March.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.