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Philly Wi-Fi provider to be announced Tuesday

The city of Philadelphia is expected to announce on Tuesday who has won the contract to build a municipal Wi-Fi network.

The two contenders to build the project, expected to run between $15 million and $18 million, are Hewlett-Packard and EarthLink.

Even though that dollar value would amount to only a sliver of either firm's revenue, the contract will be a highly visible one because Philadelphia was one of the first major U.S. cities to announce a city-wide network--and also because the idea has been embroiled in controversy. One Philly councilman has likened it to a "boondoggle," and the project spurred a state law aimed at curbing similar efforts in Pennsylvania.

EarthLink spokesman Dan Greenfield said Monday that "nothing has been communicated officially one way or another" from the city and he expects an announcement on Tuesday. Dianah Neff, Philadelphia's chief information officer, didn't immediately respond to a telephone inquiry.

Google and San Francisco, of course, are being slightly more forthcoming about their plans.