Philadelphia Plans World’s Largest WiFi Hotspot

Whilst one or two small cities are now claiming 100% WiFi coverage, Philadelphia has ambitions to cover its entire 135 square miles with the world’s largest wireless internet hotspot.

Major John F Street has formed a 14 member committee to plan the network and decide on access charges – some sources are speculating that the service may be free to residents, or at least very cheap.The project would help encourage tourism in the city and would complement the existing services in coffee shops and other businesses.

The project is expected to cost around US$10 million (€8.23 million), with annual maintenance amounting to about US$1.5 million (€1.23 million). The city intends to pay for the initial creation of the network, and then recoup the running costs from businesses and tourists. For example, tourists could pay for a day’s WiFi access with cross promotions to events and attractions, or businesses could pay a fee for a secure section of the network.

The current plan has a launch date of late 2005/early 2006.

The Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Technology

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?