PA Gov Ed Rendell (D) late Tues signed into law a bill placing tight restrictions on the ability of municipalities to build out public Wi-Fi networks, thanks in large part to an aggressive lobbying effort by local incumbent Verizon. The watered-down bill won’t affect Philly’s plans to develop a city-wide Wi-Fi network, as Verizon agreed to waive its right to stop the project. Gov Rendell reluctantly signed the bill, calling the provision limiting municipal competition a "problem," but said Verizon’s decision to allow the Philly plan to continue gave him hope that similar compromises could be worked out in other parts of the state. — Oppenheimer analyst Thomas Eagan said the legislation was "positive for both the cable industry and Comcast," as he did not expect the muni Wi-Fi project to "significantly impact" the incumbent MSO, thanks to its HSD product’s speed and reliability. Moreover, should it serve as a national precedent, the law could be a boon to the cable industry as a whole, as "other municipalities across dozens of states are considering providing wireless Internet access."

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