Pasadena Selects EarthLink for Muni Wi-Fi Network

The ISP starts talks to construct 23-square-mile wireless network that will cost the city's taxpayers nothing to build.

The city of Pasadena, Calif. selected EarthLink Aug. 1 to enter into final negotiations to build, own and operate a 23-square mile citywide municipal wireless Internet network, the fourth major metropolitan project the ISP has in the works.

EarthLinks other current municipal Wi-Fi projects are being developed in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Mountain View, Calif. The ISP is working on adding San Francisco to its list of clients.

The Wi-Fi mesh network, which will be built at EarthLinks expense, costing Pasadena taxpayers nothing, will provide high-speed Internet access for residents, businesses and visitors to the Los Angeles-area city best known for hosting the Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade each January.

The cost structure for users will be determined during the negotiations, an EarthLink spokesperson said. The standard subscription fee for use is currently expected to be $19.99 per month. T1 alternative services for local businesses would be priced higher, the spokesperson said.

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EarthLink will offer a symmetrical, 1M-bps solution for customers and will work with the city to develop a digital inclusion program to offer discounted Internet access to certain qualifying residents, an EarthLink spokesperson said.

EarthLink will deploy Tropos Networks MetroMesh Wi-Fi routers on light poles throughout the city to provide reliable wireless data connectivity between consumers and the Internet, the company spokesperson said.

The Tropos system forms a wireless mesh, intelligently routing data to all parts of the network. The network will be operated and optimized using Tropos Control, an end-to-end configuration, monitoring and maintenance tool suite.

In addition, EarthLink will deploy Motorolas MOTOwi4 portfolio of products, including its Canopy high-speed backhaul and Wi-Fi mesh network equipment.

Atlanta-based EarthLink has had a longstanding relationship with the city of Pasadena. The company has had a corporate presence in the market since 1994 and currently has over 400 employees working in the city, an EarthLink spokesperson said.

"As Wi-Fi continues to be the connecting technology of choice for consumers wanting flexible and convenient online access, we look forward to working with EarthLink to bring broadband Internet access to homes, businesses and city departments," said John Pratt, Pasadenas chief IT officer.

Pratt told eWEEK that the network provider will allow multiple, competing providers, such as PeoplePC, to offer their services to consumers and businesses over its network. For small businesses, Pasadenas wireless network will also provide an alternative for broadband connectivity, such as an affordable wireless T-1 solution.

EarthLink was selected over MetroFi and NeoReach, Pratt told eWEEK.

"EarthLinks proposal offered the best fit to meet wireless needs in Pasadena," Pratt said. "This was based on many factors, including: strength of the proposed business plan and company financials; level of initial and ongoing investment in the wireless network; technical approach; accessibility and affordability of the service; service to City departments; and experience providing telecommunications services."

The city of Pasadena will be an anchor tenant on the network, providing city departments with portable access equipment that will improve and increase their field productivity—enabling employees to remain in the field longer and operate out of the office more effectively, the spokesperson said.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...