Wireless Philadelphia–Earthlink access to cost $21.95

In a newsletter distributed Tuesday via email, Wireless Philadelphia announced that wireless high-speed Internet access through Earthlink will start at $21.95/month for retail customers. This is higher than Wireless Philadelphia’s original target price of $16-20/month.

There will be a “Digital Inclusion” rate of $9.95/month, which is the same price announced in earlier statements.

I’ll see if I can find out an explanation for the increase, but it’s an early setback for WP’s strategy to control prices. Except for the direct price cap on the DI rate and the fixed cost of wholesale to Wireless Philadelphia (ranging from #11/mo for up to 10,000 accounts to $8/mo for more than 50,000), WP mostly hoped to control prices through indirect means.

Some early reports said there would be a minimum requirement of three resellers for every service Earthlink offered, but from what I can tell the Wireless Philadelphia-Earthlink contract only requires that resellers be treated in a non-discriminatory fashion. If that proved ineffective at keeping prices low, contract negotiators expected WP would use its wholesale option to bring an additional reseller into the market, one with less pressure on the bottom line. The contract allows WP to sell its wholesale accounts to only one reseller that must operate under the WP name.

We’ll see if they choose to exercise that option, now that the price of an Earthlink account has gone up by approximately 10 percent.

The newsleter also includes a map of the test area currently under construction and bios for the entire WP staff, along with a group photo. As a group, they seem like an enjoyable bunch with extensive experience in service-oriented non-profits.

Since it does not seem to be on their website yet, the entire email is reproduced after the jump.

If you’re interested, I’ve written earlier on what the Wireless Philadelphia budget will look like. Their main tasks will be fundraising, dispersing the Digital Inclusion accounts and supporting other as-yet-unspecified DI programs, and overseeing the network by monitoring service levels and keeping City Council and the Mayor’s office informed.

WP is also expected to form a Community Advisory Board. The makeup of the CAB is a major remaining piece of the Wireless Philadelphia puzzle. The permanent CIO is another. The Chief Information Officer that initiated the project, Dianah Neff, recently took a job with Civitium, the consulting firm she hired. That move is under investigation by the City’s ethics board. Varinia Robinson, who as Project Manager ran the nuts and bolts operation, has a contract that runs out at the end of this month.

Wireless Philadelphia has its work cut out for it.

See more of my articles on Wireless Philadelphia.

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Everything below this point is from Wireless Philadelphia, not me:

Introducing Wireless Philadelphia

Wireless Philadelphia is the non-profit organization that – along with its partner Earthlink – is helping Philadelphia to become the nationÕs first completely wireless major city.

Wireless Philadelphia was created to make high-speed Internet access more available and affordable through Digital Inclusion. WP will help all citizens, businesses, schools, and community organizations embrace this broadband technology to achieve their goals. WP will also work to strengthen the City’s economy, enhance the visitor experience and streamline City services.

What is Digital Inclusion?

Digital Inclusion is the name given to programs that seek to help people who are not online gain access with affordable hardware, software, tech support, and wireless high-speed internet service, so they can begin to use this technology to improve their lives.

Installation Has Begun

With the installation of devices called routers, Philadelphia has officially begun the process for making affordable wireless high-speed internet service available to every neighborhood in the City. Over the next two months, these routers – which use about the same amount of electricity as a 60 watt light bulbÑwill be installed on light poles and other high structures about 1,000 feet apart throughout a test area known as the Proof of Concept area.

The Proof of Concept area includes more than a dozen neighborhoods stretching 15 square miles (see map above). In this area from October through December, Earthlink and Wireless Philadelphia will test the technology and the processes by which citizens subscribe for this service. By fall of next year, wireless high-speed Internet access is scheduled to be available throughout all 135 square miles of Philadelphia.

This service will be priced beginning at $21.95/month for retail customers, and a Digital Inclusion rate of $9.95/month will be available to those who qualify. In order to be eligible for the Digital Inclusion rate, customers can have income up to 130% of the federal poverty level, or already be participants in certain supportive programs, such as Medicaid, Section 8, SSI, Food Stamps, LIHEAP, TANF, and/or the Free Lunch program.

Free access will be available in certain public spaces such as parks and public areas. These include Love Park, the Historic Square Mile, PennÕs Landing, Cobbs Creek Environmental Center, Hunting Park, Wissahickon Environmental Center, Pennypack Environmental Center, FDR Park and Penn Treaty Park. In addition, each district councilperson will name a public space within his/her district where citizens can go for free access.

Questions? Visit our website at www.wirelessphiladelphia.org for updates or send us an e-mail at info@wirelessphiladelphia.org.

From left to right: Dionne Ellison, Amber Kealey, Thomas Kim, Agnes Ogletree, and Greg Goldman

Greg Goldman
Chief Executive Officer

Greg Goldman, the first permanent CEO for Wireless Philadelphia, has a background in both the not-for profit and for profit sectors. He was most recently Vice President of Korman Communities, a Philadelphia-based residential real estate company. Prior to that, Greg was the Executive Director of MANNA, a local organization that delivers nourishment to people living with HIV/AIDS. During his six-year tenure, the organizationÕs service capacity and budget more than doubled, and its reach extended to include all 11 counties of the tri-state region.

From 1992 to 1998, Greg was the Senior Program Officer at The Philadelphia Foundation, where he directed financial resources to dozens of community based organizations throughout the City and region

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University, Greg holds a Master’s Degree in public policy from the University of Chicago. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship, an international development program for emerging community leaders.

Agnes Ogletree
Chief Operating Officer

For the last several years, Agnes Ogletree has been the COO for the Transitional Work Corporation (TWC), a non-profit organization located in Center City Philadelphia that provides job training and placement services to entry-level workers. Agnes was responsible for the day-to-day management of all internal activities, most notably, the organizationÕs annual fiscal budget of $15,000,000. Agnes has also been an active member in Philadelphia’s fundraising community. Her committee work includes organizations such as Gift of Life, Marion Anderson Awards Gala, Breast Cancer Health Gala, and the Children Crisis Treatment Center “Round Up.” She also established The Rittenhouse Bed & Breakfast in 1997.

Amber Kealey
Director of Communications

Amber Kealey is a communications, public relations and special events professional. Her projects have included Comcast Presents “An Evening with Bill Cosby,” the Comcast Cable initiative on drug prevention and education which brought Bill Cosby to a benefit performance at the Academy of Music; Comedy Central’s Indecision 2000, The Daily Show’s coverage of the Republican National Convention culminating with Comedy Central’s Capitol of Comedy Party in Philadelphia; and a branding campaign for the non-profit MANNA that culminated with a new logo, tagline, DVD and website for the organization.

Dionne Ellison
Director of Community Relations

Dionne Ellison will work and partner with community based organizations across Philadelphia to develop and deliver programs that bridge the digital divide and create a neighborhood presence for the overall Wireless Philadelphia program. These organizations will serve as the point of contact for all Digital Inclusion customers and their needs e.g. training, opening an internet service account, PC purchase info, etc. Dionne brings to her role 12+ years of IT background, including work with Cigna, wherein she was a member of the team that piloted LAN Token Ring technology for their field litigation offices across the country.

Thomas Kim
Operations Manager

Thomas Kim will play a key role in the development and implementation of Wireless Philadelphia’s internal systems, focusing on fundraising and community programs. Recently with United Way of Greater Mercer County, his responsibilities included web-based fundraising campaigns and the management of charitable donations from various Fortune 500, higher education, and governmental entities throughout the region. Thomas also served as a production coordinator for a boutique advertising firm in New York where he was able to hone his digital and technical savvy.

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9 Comments

  1. AC said

    I saw an ad on a septa bus today that said $17.95 per month.

  2. Ben said

    It’s 17.95 for the first 3 months.

  3. CR said

    i have closed networks and hope they improve their service to match what eathlink’s brand provides. my only dispointment is thewir poor service infrastructure.

  4. tb said

    I find it really irritating that this project was first proposed as a very low-cost alternative and is turning out not to be. I’m also disappointed that it is taking so long.
    Mountain View, Calif., is offering FREE wireless. Granted, it’s a much smaller community but it’s ironic that a super-wealthy city gets this service free while Philadelphians will be paying a significant amount.
    Thanks, Joshua, for getting updated information online. The Wireless Philadelphia site wasn’t helpful at all.
    Can you tell I’m a little steamed about all this? 😉

  5. Hey, tb: I hear, you, but I don’t mind if the Philly project takes a while if they do it right.

    I don’t think Mountain View is a fair comparison. That’s Google’s hometown and they’re doing the project more as an employee benefit (like a gym) and a publicity stunt than for community benefit. Not to say we shouldn’t get our money’s worth…

    Wireless Philadelphia had a “request for proposals” (RFP) deadline a few weeks ago for “Website Design and Hosting” [WP RFP page | RFP pdf]. Maybe they’ll have a better one soon. I’ll be curious to know what they spent for it, however good it is.

    There’s no excuse for not keeping us better informed. The whole city – not just those of us who already have Internet access – have a right to regular updates and a wireless community board, not just occasional updates. Greg Goldman needs a blog.

    AC, Ben: Thanks for the additional info.

  6. tb said

    So, Joshua, how do we pressure Goldman to keeping us all informed? Any ideas? It just feels that without public pressure, this project will happen in typical Philly fashion, and that would be a shame.

  7. hannahjs said

    That’s really important. In my experience here in Philly, the best way to put public pressure on a municipal, corporate, or just-basically-huge-in-general project is to make a big public stink. That means press strategies, and hopefulyl public educational forums or other opportunities for people who don’t know about the project to learn more, and to clearly articulate what they’d want it to do. If a coalition of diverse groups across the city can articulate what they want from the build, and use traditional and nontraditional media to get their point across, the WP program will have to address the demand at the very least, if not bend the plan to serve the public.

    That said — where can we begin? So many of us are busy with other really important projects and plans. What’s a sustainable way to discuss this issue and plan public outcry (outcry informed by people who are really affected by the plan) without making promises we can’t keep?

  8. Benny K said

    Hello,
    I feel the pressure has to be put on such a level to show wirelessphiladelphia how the big boys do it. They need to have a public face not just a public to the private sector face like the fundraiser / happy hour we attended yesterday. I think a start in the right direction would be putting stuff out to the masses in big poster or in the metro, and having some type of city wide status system, not sure how this would be done, by a phone call in number or something.
    Thats my say for now.
    Take care all!

  9. Yvette Atwood said

    I am trying to fine out if you have a program which I can get a telephone service as well as a internet service with your company. So if you can get back with me with this information.

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