The City of Philadelphia has concluded negotiations with Verizon Communications, and will move forward with plans to develop a metropolitan Wi-Fi network, even though a new Pennsylvania law allows telecommunication carriers from blocking such projects.
The planned Wi-Fi network, which will offer low-cost Internet service to residents, is still scheduled to go online this summer. Pennsylvania House Bill 30, signed into law this week, allows incumbent carriers, such as Verizon, the right to block local governments from setting up paid Internet networks after January 1, 2006. The law allows existing services, such as Philadelphia’s, to continue, plus there’s a one-year grace period within which new governmental network services may be developed. Good news for residents is that the law does not restrict the future development of free-access networks, should a local government decide to foot the bill.
I have been using Baltimore and Philadelphia’s metropolitan Wi-Fi networks as examples of government support for broad-access Internet services, in my university e-business classes. Philadelphia’s network plan is interesting because it encompasses the entire metropolitan area, and is specifically designed to serve those residents most likely to not have current broadband Internet access.
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Pennsylvania House Bill 30