Philadelphia city council committee approves purchase of citywide Wi-Fi network

Philadelphia could see its citywide Wi-Fi network revived, but for government use only, if the City Council approves a committee’s recommendation to purchase the network from a private company that bought it from EarthLink. The purchase price is $2 million. We reported back in December 2009 that Philadelphia had plans to buy back the network. But it’s only now that we have any decision on the matter.

Recently, the city of Riverside took over the citywide Wi-Fi network built and run by AT&T. It hired US Internet, the ISP that manages the Minneapolis muni Wi-Fi network, to to run the network. The model in Riverside is identical to that in Minneapolis: the city will pay US Internet $5.48 million per year over 5 years for the municipality’s use of the network. US Internet can offer Internet access to residents and businesses on a free and paid basis, as they do in Minneapolis.

It’s not clear if Philadelphia will end up hiring a wireless ISP to manage the network, as Riverside has done.