While some users were able to access the Earthlink service for free or at a
discounted rate, the bulk of customers were charged $20 per month to use the WiFi
access. The network only had about 6,000 customers at its high point thanks to
spotty indoor coverage and much faster plans from other providers for the same
amount of money.
The final nail in the Earthlink network’s coffin in Philly was when
Earthlink announced in May 2008 that users
of the network had 30 days to find other service before the WiFi network
was shut down. Earthlink looked to sell
the network to another provider and had entered into negotiations with an
Ohio based non-profit organization according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Those negotiations later fell apart leaving Earthlink with few options but to
petition the courts to allow the removal of their hardware from city owned streetlights.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that local investors banded
together to purchase the WiFi network from Earthlink. The investors include
Derek Pew and Mark Rupp and they intend to take the network in a different direction
by possibly offering WiFi access for free to all users and supporting the
network on ad revenues.
The investors also say that they intend to pursue institutions like
hospitals and colleges with an offer to allow them to extend their in-house
networks across the city over the former Earthlink WiFi network for an