WiFi Planet says the investors who acquired Philadelphia’s Wi-Fi network from Earthlink now count over 100,000 users per month, each of them averaging about four hours of usage per day.
“For the time being, we have turned the service wide open for residential and small commercial use,” said Derek Pew, founder, CEO, and director of Network Acquisition Company (NAC), the Philadelphia organization which is now running the show.
Wi-Fi service will remain free to anyone who can access it in the city, but NAC plans to start monetizing residential accounts through advertising and transaction processing, such as taking a cut of ticket sales or delivering coupons. A pay tier would be available to businesses and government institutions.
“Our view of what the Wi-Fi network should be used for is entirely different from what EarthLink was trying to do,” says Pew.
“The reason we jumped into this was because we believed that there’s a mind problem right now. We have people who are very negative on Wi-Fi because of what appears to be a market exit by EarthLink and other similar companies. Someone needed to step in and hold onto this asset, improve on it and reposition it, and begin to show people what it actually should have been used for, what it can be used for, as opposed to what EarthLink was trying to do with it in the first place”, said the charitable Pew.
MetroFi has been down the “free” road — without much success.
Pew looks to Tucson, Arizona and Oklahoma City as models for implementing a wireless network. Both of those systems use Tropos gear. Network Acquisition Company, it should be noted, is largely funded by Tropos founder Dave Hanna. Tropos bet the company on Philadelphia.
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