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December 12, 2016

Philly boosting internet service; all city recreation centers will soon have Wi-Fi

Connectivity Partnerships
Carroll - City Hall and Benjamin Franklin Parkway Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Philadelphia City Hall from the Parkway.

Philadelphia officials intend to provide Wi-Fi coverage inside all city facilities under an agreement to boost internet service.

Mayor Jim Kenney's office announced Monday that the city agreed to a 15-year deal with Comcast Business to increase the city's networking speeds and capacity. The pact will run concurrently with the company's cable franchise agreement with the city.

“In this digital age, the network will be the very backbone of our government and will greatly enhance our ability to provide vital city services, particularly for the departments of police, fire and emergency management," Kenney said in a statement.

Philly has been regularly praised for its implementation of technology to provide city services. Last month, the Center for Digital Government recognized Philly as a top digital city. The new agreement will upgrade the city's network capacity by five times without increasing costs, the city said.

Kathryn Ott Lovell, commissioner of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, noted that the agreement will have a major impact on the department's facilities. At least 80 recreation centers are not equipped with internet access.

"[T]hose centers are not adequately serving members of those communities," she said. "Recreation centers provide services for all Philadelphians – providing access to the internet should be standard everywhere.”

Comcast will provide accounts for all recreation facilities that are currently operating without internet access. The city plans to install Wi-Fi in all city facilities, including Love Park when renovations are completed, for public access.

The agreement will also allow the city to increase bandwidth in the future for special events, like next year's NFL draft.