Just weeks after EarthLink pulled out of a project to provide wireless Internet throughout the city of Philadelphia after the city refused to take over management of the network, a group of investors has agreed to run the project.
According to the Philadelpha Inquirer, a group of investors temporarily called Network Acquisition Company LLC has already turned the wifi back on in all the locations where it was before, and plans to add wired high-speed access to gain business and institutional paying subscribers.
Users might also have to look at ads to use the service, the Inquirer said.
The investors also said they plan to expand the wifi service to cover the 20-30% of the city that does not yet have wifi access. The company did not reveal information such as a business plan or how much revenue it expected to make on the service.
Derek Pew will serve as CEO; other members include Mark Rupp, Richard Rasansky and former mayoral candidate Tom Knox. Pew and Rupp are both members of the board of directors of Boathouse Communications; Rupp is the CFO and has worked for a number of companies to provide wireless and cellular, including Verizon. Both Pew and Rupp also work for the Pew Consulting Group. Rasansky is the head of the Mid-Atlantic chapter of Mobile Monday, a group dedicated to promoting wireless access.
The network reportedly cost EarthLink $17 million to build, and the company was losing $2.4 million a year on it. Dianah Neff -- the Philadelphia CIO who engineered the deal with Earthlink -- is no longer with city government; she joined the public broadband consulting firm of Civitium in 2006. The firm, noting its connection with the Philadelphia project without referring to Neff by name, released a six-page memo with its view and analysis of events after EarthLink abandoned the project.