TMCnet News

EarthLink Launches Wi-Fi Pilot Initiative in Chicago
[March 01, 2007]

EarthLink Launches Wi-Fi Pilot Initiative in Chicago

TMCnet Contributing Editor
Internet Service Provider (ISP) EarthLink introduced the EarthLink Digital Future Program to promote the use of digital technologies nationwide. The program will promote the use of Wi-Fi broadband Internet services for citizens of all-incomes in municipalities across the country.

The ISP also announced that it launched the project's first pilot at the Featherfist Homeless Shelter in Chicago, which included deploying a computer lab with WiFi service. EarthLink plans to deploy other 16 projects like these at other homeless shelters throughout the city.
"To EarthLink its clear and its simple: benefiting from what broadband offers shouldn't be based on the zip code you live in or your ability to pay for a myriad of overpriced services from one or two providers, that's why EarthLink has launched our Digital Future Program to help individuals and families cross the digital divide," said Donald Berryman, president of EarthLink's municipal networks unit, in a statement.
EarthLink will implement the program via a "T.E (News - Alert).A.C.H." approach. The five areas of T.E.A.C.H. are: Training, Education, Access, Content and Hardware. Under the program, the ISP will provide individuals and groups with training on how to use its Wi-Fi networks. EarthLink will also make contributions towards children's education by reaching out to school-aged children and providing discounted access as well as programs for educators.
Most importantly, the ISP will also provide more affordable, (and free to some areas) Internet access to designated public areas. EarthLink is currently developing a portal to serve as a landing page that includes content sources and links for new users.
EarthLink will also ink deals with partners to offer discounted computer hardware to financially disadvantaged residents via the new program.

The ISP's first pilot will be deployed at Chicago's Featherfist homeless children's center. This deployment is the first of 17 centers to receive the service throughout greater metropolitan Chicago. EarthLink joined forces with Blackwell Consulting Services and Computers for Schools for this project. The Chicago Public Schools system will provide on-site training at all centers through their Homeless Education Department.
EarthLink's Digital Future Program is just a small token of the company's nationwide Wi-Fi initiative. The ISP has been causing quite a stir with its major citywide Wi-Fi project. EarthLink has ongoing municipal WiFi (News - Alert) contracts in St. Petersburg, Florida; Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia; Anaheim and Milpitas, California and New Orleans.
The ISP also has a WiFi relationship with Vonage (News - Alert) to offer customers Wi-Fi Internet access in select cities throughout the United States. Vonage agreed to buy Internet access on a wholesale basis from EarthLink in all cities where the company will build, own and operate municipal wireless networks. Vonage agreed to resell this Wi-Fi Internet service to its consumers under the Vonage brand.
Want to learn more about Wi-Fi? Then be sure to check out TMCnet’s Whitepaper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.
Johanne Torres is contributing editor for TMCnet and Internet Telephony magazine. To see more articles by Johanne Torres, please visit her columnist page.

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