Saturday, August 23, 2014
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BREAKING NEWS: EarthLink To Dump Wireless Philadelphia Next Month

EarthLink, the Internet service provider that hooked up the city through Wireless Philadelphia, announced this morning that it wants to start dismantling the system on June 12.

BREAKING NEWS: EarthLink To Dump Wireless Philadelphia Next Month

EarthLink, the Internet service provider that hooked up the city through Wireless Philadelphia, announced this morning that it wants to start dismantling the system on June 12.  The Atlanta-based company has been looking to get out of the municipal wireless business here and in other cities since November. But Philadelphia has a 10-year contract with EarthLink, signed in February 2006, that calls for the company to pay the city $1 million in 10 days as part of a long-term payment plan.

So EarthLink today went to federal court, asking a judge for permission to pull down its equipment after June 12.  You've probably seen the stuff, which EarthLink says has a value of $17 million.  It's those little silver boxes with two antennae strapped to streetlights across the city.  They broadcast Internet signals to computers with wireless access. EarthLink also asked the federal judge today to limit its financial liability for Philadelphia Wireless to $1 million.

Mayor Nutter today vowed to protect the city's interest under the contact and said he does not intend to spend city money to keep the system up and running.  Nutter added that EarthLink had been negotiating with Cleveland-based OneCommunity to take over Wireless Philadelphia but that several potential deals had fallen apart in the last week.  OneCommunity, a non-profit, has $25 million in funding for the next five years from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help provide Internet access to 26 cities, including Philadelphia.

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Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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