Two vendors have teamed up to bring wireless networks to five major U.S. cities.
Internet service provider EarthLink Inc. said yesterday it has signed a contract with Motorola Inc., which will provide wireless equipment, design, installation, and system integration for five initial municipal deployments.
EarthLink was selected by Philadelphia and Anaheim, Calif., to deploy and operate their Wi-Fi networks. Motorola's portfolio of MOTOwi4 products includes Wi-Fi mesh network equipment from Tropos Networks Inc. Motorola will install the equipment on city light poles. The other three cities have not yet been revealed.
EarthLink says potential customers are residents who could not previously afford high-speed Internet access. In Philadelphia, Internet service will cost low-income residents about $10 a month. "EarthLink is putting up the money so it will be at no cost to the city," says Philadelphia's CIO, Dianah Neff.
Other users include tourists and business travelers who need Internet access, and they'll be able to get it at a lower cost than broadband services available from cable and telephone companies.
Cities are looking to provide a cheaper alternative to existing Internet services to boost their economies and the quality of their residents' lives. "They want faster data services for their first responders and city workers, but they don't want to go with cellular," says Forrester analyst Ellen Daley.