On March 1, Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street announced an agreement with EarthLink to create a citywide wireless network, bringing wireless Internet service to all Philadelphia neighborhoods. Not only will the system earn Philly the title of the country’s largest municipal wi-fi hotspot to date, it is also intended to “help improve education, bridge the digital divide, enhance neighborhood development, and reduce the costs of government,” according to a city press release.
The network, to be built at no cost to taxpayers, will rely on transmittal devices to be placed on city street lamp poles. Before that can happen, two ordinances governing street-light usage will need to be approved by City Council.
Many other cities, including Tempe, Chicago, and San Francisco are in the process of developing and/or considering municipal wireless networks. Grand Haven, Michigan and Ceritos, California were among the first to offer citywide wi-fi service.