Just as Verizon now must still let other phone companies offer local and long distance services, WiFi’s winning lead contractor will have to offer access to any company at a fair wholesale rate.
But the big difference is that Verizon will always own the wires, while the city will continue to own the entire wireless system and all its equipment. So far, the scheme is working. Even before Neff’s announcement last week, corporations like AT&T and Lucent Technologies had effectively signed on â€” by helping to finance pilot programs in Powelton, Olney, Norris Square and elsewhere. And with last week’s announcement of HP and Earthlink going head-to-head came still more good news that megacorp Intel will stay in for long haul. The chipmaker has already donated $100,000 for the current crop of test hot spots and now says it will help put some 10,000 computers into homes in poor neighborhoods â€” featuring Philadelphia as one of 13 cities worldwide in its Digital Communities initiative.