Philadelphia Grows Wireless Web Access Area

Philadelphia Grows Wireless Web Access Area

PHILADELPHIA
Philadelphia, reportedly the first major U.S. city to launch a citywide wireless Internet project, expanded free outdoor wireless Internet access last month as part of a multimillion-dollar plan to connect the entire city by early 2006. Some smaller cities already have wireless networks for their residents, but Philadelphia is the first major city to undertake a networking project, according to Dianah Neff, a city spokeswoman and head of the wireless project.
“It will have a huge impact on the perception of Philadelphia as a 21st-century city and a progressive place,” said Philadelphia Mayor John Street at a recent news conference.
The expansion provides Web access to users of WiFi-enabled computers and devices within a radius of nearly a mile from the first “hot spot,” which is Love Park in downtown Philadelphia where the project began earlier this year.
A city-led task force is having discussions with business groups and schools to expand the wireless area throughout the city. The task force aims to complete its plan by early December and invite bids from Internet service providers and equipment suppliers by February next year, according to Neff. 
If suppliers sign contracts by early 2005, the citywide network could be operating within a year, Neff has said. The estimated initial cost of the project is $7 million to $10 million.



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