Philadelphia takes a pass on saving muni Wi-Fi network

The Mayor of Philadelphia has indicated that he will not use city funds to keep the Earthlink wireless network running in the city.

While Mayor Michael Nutter told the Philadelphia Daily News earlier this week that they are far from finished with having discussions with EarthLink, the city won't spend money to save the Wi-Fi network.

A lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the ISP to break its ten-year contract with the city, complaining that it had only managed to attract 5,942 customers, far short of the 100,000 expected to take advantage of the service.

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Losses are mounting: each month EarthLink is losing $180,000 to $200,000 in maintenance. Furthermore, a $1 million payment to the city of Philadelphia is due on May 23.

While it is not trying to get out of the million-dollar payment, Earthlink is asking the judge to cap any future payments to that amount. It is also asking for permission to begin removing its equipment from 4,300 access nodes around the city starting on June 12.

The non-profit group in charge of the network -- Wireless Philadelphia -- is not giving up, despite these most recent comments from city government. It maintains that EarthLink cannot dissolve the network under the current contract.

"This initiative is far from dead. All options have not been exhausted regarding the network and our innovative digital inclusion mission must continue," its CEO Greg Goldman said in a statement.

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