Whither Municipal Wi-Fi?

Here’s a status report on five major public-wireless projects.

Chicago, IL

Status: Suspended


The city’s talks with EarthLink and AT&T, which bid on an $18.5 million proposal, failed after Chicago said it wanted to provide only infrastructure, not funding or maintenance.

Minneapolis, MN

Status: Set for completion in spring 2008

The partially completed system, operated by US Internet, proved valuable for public-safety teams last year when the I-35 bridge collapsed and the local cell-phone system crashed.

Athens, GA

Status: Shut down in January

Built by a University of Georgia professor and a team of students, one of the nation’s first municipal Wi-Fi systems was shuttered after six years because of funding woes.

Philadelphia, PA

Status: 80% completed


With costs soaring past $20 million, network owner-operator EarthLink is rumored to be abandoning the project, which has been plagued by political snafus.

Corpus Christi, TX

Status: Running since summer 2006

Corpus Christi’s Wi-Fi, originally set up for automated meter readings, now allows free access to some community information sites and full access at some hotspots in town. EarthLink charges residents $20 a month for full access at home.


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