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Philadelphia Counts Down To Citywide Wireless

Deployment of Philadelphia's citywide wireless mesh network could start in a matter of weeks after a key joint city council committee this week approved the contract between the city and EarthLink. That means the first phase of the project could be completed by the end of the summer.

That's the word from Derek Pew, the interim CEO of Wireless Philadelphia, the not-for-profit organization that is overseeing the development and administration of the network. Eventually slated to cover 135 square miles, the first phase will cover 15 square miles and could start being deployed in early June -- if the city council gives final approval in two weeks as expected, Pew said in an interview Friday.

Construction and testing of that first section will take about three months and the rest of the build-out will start immediately after that, according to Pew.

"I'm still hopeful it will be all done in the first quarter of 2007, but EarthLink is hedging their bets a bit and saying it'll be done a bit later," Pew said. Even if EarthLink is right, it certainly should be completed in the second quarter of next year, Pew said.

When it's done, the network will provide access at a minimum speed of 1 Mbps -- if all goes according to plan.

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