December 14, 2016
The City of Brotherly Love was the home of founding father and inventor Benjamin Franklin. Now it appears that it is the home of a new type of broadband partnership. According to Light Reading, the city of Philadelphia will work with Comcast “to develop an Institutional Network (iNet) bundled with commercial broadband services.” Comcast will provide the funding for the system while the Philly city government has agreed to a plan that will require it to buy service from Comcast for government facilities for 15 years.
A Comcast spokesperson told Light Reading the company will “connect more than 225 facilities, including police and fire stations, health and human services offices, recreation centers and more to the network, which will enjoy increased capacity.” The spokesperson also said Comcast will be able to “double the aggregate bandwidth on the network connecting City facilities with no increase in cost.”
The increased capacity will be a particular benefit to public safety and health services. Light Reading said, “The increased network capacity throughout the city will be particularly helpful for high-bandwidth applications including video, which is being used with more frequency by the Police Department among others, and transfers of large files including X-rays by the Health Department.”
As part of the deal Comcast also will “provide free Internet accounts to all local recreation centers that don’t currently have connectivity.” That means “the city will be able to offer WiFi to citizens at these sites and at Philadelphia’s famous Love Park …”
In its report, Light Reading also reminds readers that the city of Philadelphia once tried to go it alone on broadband, creating its own government-owned WiFi service in 2007. That service ultimately didn’t work because it put the city in competition with the private sector. Light Reading explains, “As analysts have argued, that put the city in the uncomfortable position of having to promote the new WiFi services, while also trying to hold EarthLink accountable for its performance.”
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