Friday, May 16, 2008

Phooey. Philadelphia's free and paid for wifi system, which was run by Earthlink, will be shutting down next month.

Click here for the news articles

Even though I wasn't a subscriber to the Earthlink network, as I've already got an ISP and I didn't have a wifi-capable computer until I got my XO last December, I wanted to see the municipal wifi network succeed.

They had a regular monthly rate for subscribers which was, IMO, relatively reasonable. Subscribers who could demonstrate financial need could sign up for a reduced monthly rate.

I also think that they are the ones who offered the free wifi service at certain landmark areas, including JFK Plaza and the Reading Terminal Market. (Don't quote me on that last one, though, as I'm not entirely sure who operates the free wifi access at the Market.) Sure, no sooner does the weather get decent, to the point where I might actually be tempted to haul the XO into Center City and check out the freebie wifi hotspots, then the city and Earthlink decide to bag the whole fargin' muni wifi network. Figures!

Actually, I hope that the city finds a way to at least keep the freebie hotspots operating at the important landmark sites. Surely the income that the city receives from tourists is sufficient to warrant spending the money to offer that resource, even if it's only available at select locations.

I'm greatly disappointed that the municipal wifi experiment is ending in failure. I would have loved to see it thrive. As I've probably made clear in my posting track record over the years, I'm all about anything that will make technology more available to everyone. This is particularly true if the tech in question will help level the playing field for everyone, and will allow everyone to have equal opportunity and access to resources.

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