Another step forward in the battle for municipal wireless for all. Philadelphia's city council has approved a contract for blanketing the city with Wi-Fi. The only people left to sign off are part of the administration who initially proposed the service and, as such, it's likely a formality. The vendor for the plan is EarthLink, who has also been involved with developing a citywide Wi-Fi network for San Francisco. That plan has been mired in controversy, since Google, who is also part of the plan, announced that they were planning to defray costs via advertising.
In addition, broadband companies have been charging that the government should not be involved in bringing infrastructure to the masses since it makes it difficult for providers to compete with the free municipal access. So is Internet access a right or a privilege? People have to pay for water, heat, shelter, phone service, garbage removal, cable, and electricity, whether it be via taxes or payments directly to the companies involved, and some industries are more regulated than others. Where does Internet fall?