A consortium of local investors have acquired the wifi network covering the US city of Philadelphia, just weeks after the previous owner EarthLink said it would shut the operation down.

Last month, the US ISP revealed that negotiations with the City of Philadelphia, in which EarthLink offered to transfer ownership of the entire $17m network for free, had unravelled. So after failing to turn a profit, EarthLink’s decision to kill off the network didn’t come as a surprise for some, as metropolitan wifi has been widely panned in the press.

But the appropriately named Network Acquisition Company (NAC) came to the rescue, snapping up the company with funding from local investors. The company has kept quiet on pricing around the deal.

NAC said it will initially focus on “evaluating and improving the acquired Tropos-based wifi network by tuning its performance for outdoor access, expanding coverage areas and assessing the future build out of the network’s current footprint.”

The company said it will be rebuilding the network architecture to be consistent with a new business model that will “use wifi to extend the reach of wired networks rather than competing with them.”

This initial phase is expected to take several months to complete.

The new owner of the Philadelphia network is vague on the details, but said Its target market includes enterprise customers with multi-locations and field and fleet services, municipal governments, and health care and educational non-profit organisations.

The company said it will offer a range of integrated wired and wireless services including broadband internet access and private network services.

Potential revenue models NAC is investigating include, location based advertising, sponsorships and revenue sharing with specialised application providers. NAC will offer free wifi but has no plans to optimise the network for indoor users nor to provide customer service assistance for this community service, neatly tackling two of the biggest criticisms of wifi metro.

“In some situations, users may be able to access the Internet indoors, but such access is not a goal for the company. NAC’s approach is to make it simple for users — once a consumer registers on the network, they will be able to access the internet for free on a “best efforts” basis,” the company said.