More Trouble Ahead for Google's SF Wi-Fi Plan?

By Steve Bryant  |  Posted 2007-02-06 Print this article Print

Google's plan to provide free Wi-Fi to all of San Francisco has been facing a few roadblocks of late. Although San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and EarthLink last year agreed to contract terms that would allow EarthLink to be the sole wireless ISP for the city, a subsequent Board of Supervisors' Budget Analyst Report titled "Fiscal Feasibility Analysis of a Citywide Municipally-Owned Wireless Broadband Network" enumerated several concerns, including the fact that EarthLink and Google would have a veritable monopoly over SF Web access.

Tomorrow, the SF Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing to discuss the report and consider a resolution "urging the City and County of San Francisco to weigh the costs and benefits of a Google/Earthlink-provided wireless Internet, versus an autonomous wireless internet connection created and maintained by the City and County of San Francisco itself." (PDF available here.)

A Google representative said "Our efforts are focused on providing the best possible service to end users. We think our proposal with EarthLink and the City leverages the collective strength of the public and private sector, as well as the community itself."

But the SF Board of Supervisors also notes that, under the current arrangement, EarthLink is not bound to test its Wi-Fi implementation before the contract has been approved, a situation that the board will discuss tomorrow.

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