On Wednesday, the city sent out a press release announcing its intention to purchase existing wireless infrastructure from the Network Acquisition Company -- a step toward creating a municipal wireless network. The network will cost $2 million, though the city will need to spend a total of about $17 million over the next five years to get the thing up and running.
The city says the network will have three benefits: public safety (in the form of real-time video surveillance and field communication), government efficiency (again, as a communication tool for field workers), and reduced operating expenses (from deployment efficiency and vendor costs).
The city doesn't mention in the release that it has three applications out for federal broadband grants, and that one of the proposals is for a $21 million network infrastructure project. There's got to be a relationship here, right?
Todd Wolfson of the Media Mobilizing Project, who worked on the city's Digital Philadelphia Vision, says this move "shows a commitment" to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is administering the grants. "It's skin in the game," he says. The grant, he explains, is an 80 percent/20 percent match, meaning the city has to put up 20 percent of the total funds for the project. This investment doesn't cover that, but it perhaps suggests some seriousness.
Of course, not all the news for this particular stimulus proposal has been good news -- the state declined to recommend the project to the feds (as Joseph Di Stefano reports at the link, some activists think Comcast had something to do with that).
Read more about the Digital Philadelphia vision here.