Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

City to buy what's left of Wireless Philadelphia for $2 million

Here's the release. More to come...

Philadelphia, December 16 – The City of Philadelphia announced today its intention to purchase the existing wireless network assets from the Network Acquisition Company (NAC), the first in a series of steps towards creating a multi-purpose public safety and municipal wireless network that will improve government operations as well as providing free internet to citizens in targeted public spaces. The City is exercising an option, contained within an agreement signed in August 2009, to purchase the assets from NAC for the low price of $2 million.

"Acquiring these assets is a major step forward for the city," said Chief Technology Officer Allan Frank. "With this investment we will have the capability to build a robust public safety and municipal network, enhancing public safety and government operations, at the same time as achieving long-term savings for the taxpayer. This is a win-win for Philadelphia."

With the build out of this network the City of Philadelphia will be a national model for how to operate and economically leverage a broadband network for the benefit of its citizens. Over the next several years, improvements will be made to the network to support the following:

Enhanced Public Safety

Enhance video surveillance capabilities through real time crime surveillance and faster deployment of field officers
Enable data transmission for field officers and increase access to crime information in the field
Provide another communication option for officers in the field

Improved Government Efficiency

Enable use of handheld devices by field workers to file reports and access information
Improve deployment of workers and productivity due to the fact that workers will spend more time in the field than in the office

Reduced Operating Expenses

Allow the City to reduce vendor costs for data communications by reducing network and Internet requirements
Reduce operating budget as workers are deployed more efficiently and with better access to real-time information
Further reduce the City fleet from improved worker deployment and routing

In addition to the City government use, every effort will be made to reach out to other key City institutions to leverage the network to improve their services to Citizens. Already discussions have begun around how the network can be used by local transportation and utilities for field use.

In order to build a public safety network and realize the full benefits of acquiring these wireless assets the City would need to make capital investments to upgrade and build out the existing infrastructure. Over a five year period from Fiscal Year 2011 through Fiscal Year 2015 the City would invest close to $17 million in Capital Funding to build out both its existing core fiber network as well as the wireless mesh network acquired from NAC. This initial investment will allow the City to realize close to $9 million in operating expenses over a five year period as well as significant other savings. By Fiscal Year 2012 operational savings will outweigh expenses and by Fiscal Year 2015 the net savings over the five year period will total almost $350,000. Without acquiring these existing assets the City would have to spend in excess of $30 million and several more years in order to create from scratch a capability like this.

In order to complete the acquisition of the network assets, the transaction closing process may take as much as 150 days, including getting City Council approval for the transfer of 25 operating leases for the existing towers around the City which host the wireless radio equipment. During this time, the City's Division of Technology is working with NAC to transition operation of the network and to identify both immediate operational cost savings and technical improvements. It is expected that the network will start to be used in a pilot mode as early as this Spring as the City implements handheld and public safety applications requiring broadband connections.

About NAC
Network Acquisition Company LLC (NAC), the company that acquired the former EarthLink Wi-Fi network in the City of Philadelphia. NAC is a private company.

Click here for's politics page.