In an article on Philly.com today, there was an update on the Philadelphia municipal Wi-Fi project that is being built and soon to be deployed fully, starting in July 07. The system will provide outdoor and indoor access, and while you need to have a wireless capable computer, for guaranteed indoor service an EarthLink supplied Wi-Fi modem is needed. EarthLink, the ISP building the system, expects 5,000 subscribers in July and 12,000 subscribers by years end. I’d say that is an aggressive subscriber timetable.
Being curious, I nosed around the EarthLink FAQ for the municipal Wi-Fi service and found a few interesting tidbits.
1) To use Wi-Fi indoors, you are strongly recommended to purchase the EarthLink Wi-Fi product (i.e. the monthly fee plan which includes a Wi-Fi modem) to ensure you have a signal in your home. However, if you live on the upper floors of a high rise, you may be out of luck since the Wi-Fi signal may not reach there.
2) The Wi-Fi service is intended for use by one computer at a time. So, say you’re a multi-computer household, by the way this FAQ reads, you’re out of luck. In fact the EarthLink FAQ doesn’t address such a situation, only to say that if they catch you, “you will be charged $1 for every hour (or part of an hour) that more than one person is connected via your account. This service charge is capped at $21.95 per month.” Nice. Although later in the FAQ, EarthLink provides instructions on working with a home network, so as long as you have a router behind that Wi-Fi modem, you should be ok.
In another piece, two Inquirer reporters tried the outdoor available wireless in the current 15 square mile testing area. According to the article, sometimes the Wi-Fi worked and sometimes it didn’t. And honestly, I have yet to see a Wi-Fi system that reaches 100% saturation everywhere.
Outdoor Wi-Fi access in Philly can be purchased through Earthlink’s Feather product - with access available from 1 hour, 1 day and 3 day increments.
[tags] Philadelphia, Philadelphia wireless, Philadelphia Wi-Fi, EarthLink [/tags]