June 17, 2008 – Today, Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Wireless Philadelphia have reached an agreement with a local investor group to take over operations for Philadelphia’s Wireless Initiative. Under the terms of the deal, the local investor group is assuming operation of the existing EarthLink infrastructure and will enhance and expand the network as part of their plan to eventually bring free wireless to the City. Philadelphia is excited about this opportunity to become the first major city in America to provide wireless access to all of its citizens at no cost.
The deal to revive the Wireless Philadelphia Initiative came together quickly, thanks to the commitment and hard work of City Councilman Bill Green, EarthLink, the Mayor’s Office, the Law Department, MOIS and the Managing Director’s Office. The Mayor’s Office also contracted with a local, independent consultant to analyze the merits of the deal and ensure that it was structured correctly to meet the ultimate goal of digital inclusion.
“This network is a valuable asset to this City and I thank everyone involved for their hard work to preserve it,” said Mayor Nutter. “I am so pleased that my Office was able to partner with non-profit, for-profit and community groups to get this deal done. This is an important first step to reducing the digital divide.”
There is a transition period, during which the local investor group will assess the current state of the network and create a plan and timeline to bring the network up to specification. During this time, service will continue to current digital inclusion customers subject to interruptions for network upgrades. The local investor group will fund citywide free wireless by providing integrated wired/wireless telecommunications services for large customers such as hospitals, universities and wireless extensions as well as moving to an advertising based revenue model.
“EarthLink is pleased to have transferred ownership of our Philadelphia municipal wireless network and applaud Mayor Nutter for his efforts,” said Rolla P. Huff, EarthLink’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We will work closely with the new owner, our partners and our Wi-Fi customers on a smooth transition of the Wi-Fi network. We believe this is a positive outcome for our shareholders and the Philadelphia community.” For further information about EarthLink, please call Chris Marshall at (404) 748-6217.
“We are extremely grateful to Mayor Nutter and key members of his administration, Councilman Green, the investors,” said Greg Goldman, CEO of Wireless Philadelphia. “This partnership brings a new business model to the network, will offer free connectivity to hundreds of thousands of residents, and re-establishes Philadelphia’s position as an international leader in municipal connectivity and digital inclusion.” For further information about Wireless Philadelphia, please call Greg Goldman at (215) 990-5998 or David Brown at (856) 397-5437.
“On behalf of the company founders, I would like to express our gratitude to the investors who are fully committed to our vision,” said Rick Rasansky, co-founder of the local investor group. “They have understood from the beginning the importance of this initiative to this administration, area residents and local business enterprises. We look forward to working with Mayor Nutter, Councilman Bill Green and local not-for-profit groups to keeping WiFi in Philadelphia.” For further information about the local investment group, please call Vince Powers at (215) 568 2525.