Comcast launches 2,000 WiFi hotspots in Philly; Microsoft launches technology-based education initiative

> Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) has launched 2,000 WiFi hotspots in the Philadelphia area, Multichannel News reports, allowing its Xfinity broadband subscribers to access the Internet in public places at no extra charge. Story.

> Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) founder Bill Gates is launching the Next Generation Learning Challenges initiative, a $20 million program aimed at improving college readiness and completion rates through the use of technology. Story.

> UK alternative operator KCom has received Ofcom approval to offer bundled services in the Hull area, despite opposition from competing operators including Media3 and Nexus, reports Telegeography. Story.

> Glimmerglass Networks is introducing new optical switching solutions for cyber security and lawful interception operations by law enforcement, intelligence, and other security organizations at this week's ISS World Americas. News release.

> For the second year running, AT&T (NYSE: T) took the Top Provider spot in the Nemertes Research 2010 PilotHouse Award for Data Center Colocation. News release.

> Connected Planet's Dan O'Shea points out in a recent article that "the set-top box market isn't dying-it has just changed addresses"--to China, apparently, where an emerging market could offset losses in the U.S. and Europe. Story.

> Some 618 companies are pre-registered for the Nov. 10-11 AfricaCom Congress and Exhibition in Cape Town, South Africa, a 75 percent increase in pre-registered attendance for the event, which this year tackles the challenge of ICT development across the continent. News release.

And finally... Ever used your laptop in a public place and seen "Free Public Wi-Fi" on your list of available WiFi networks? The New York Times has an interesting explanation of what exactly that is--and why it isn't really free, or public, or even available. Story.