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2/14/2007
02:10 PM
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EarthLink To Build 600-Square-Mile Wi-Fi Net In Houston

Similar deals with San Francisco and Pasadena are pending.

The City of Houston has selected EarthLink to deploy its ambitious 600-square-mile Wi-Fi municipal network, Mayor Bill White said in a statement on Tuesday.

The network will be one of the largest in the U.S. and it will primarily serve urban and suburban sections of Metropolitan Houston. Another massive Wi-Fi rollout, in Michigan, is planned to serve urban and suburban regions as well as rural sections. According to a 2005 U.S. Census estimate, Houston has a population of more than 2 million.

In winning the Houston contract, EarthLink adds to its list of municipal customers that include Philadelphia and New Orleans. Similar Wi-Fi deals with San Francisco and Pasadena are pending.

"Our Wi-Fi networks give consumers an affordable and portable broadband Internet connection anytime, or any place, throughout the city," said Donald Berryman, executive vice president of EarthLink Municipal Networks Unit, in a statement. Berryman also said the contract with the city also calls for EarthLink to provide fixed wireless service, which, he said, would be faster and easier to install than traditional landline service.

Mayor White noted that five firms had originally submitted proposals to build the Wi-Fi mesh network. It will be available for residents and visitors. The deal also calls for the service to be made available for up to 40,000 low-income residents at $10 or less a month.

As the winner, EarthLink may qualify to operate a planned wireless network covering the city's planned Wi-Fi parking meter system.

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