San Francisco (CA) – San Francisco’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services has decided to accept Earthlink’s and Google’s offer to provide free and premium Wi-Fi access to the city’s residents. The joint proposal by Earthlink/Google trumped five competing proposals.
According to city officials, the local government will now enter negotiations to finalize the details of the deal. According to the proposal, Google will offer free, ad-subsidized access with a bandwidth of 300 kb/s while Earthlink will be providing a premium service with higher speeds for $20 per month.
Universal wireless access has been an ongoing issue in San Francisco. The original vision for a citywide network was created back in Summer of 2004. Back then Mayor Gavin Newsom told reporters that the city “will not stop until every San Franciscan has access to free wireless Internet service.” Additionally, back in October 2005, Newsom considered wireless Internet access as a “fundamental right”.
It will be a technological challenge to cover the 49 square miles of San Francisco with Wi-Fi; however, Earthlink pitches in with a knowledge derived from the wireless networks the firm has built in other cities such as Philadelphia. San Francisco’s network is expected to cost around $15 million. Earthlink and Google will be covering the entire bill.
The five rejected proposals came from Communication Bridge Global, MetroFi, NextWLAN, Razortooth Communications, and SF Metro Connect (SeaKay, Cisco, IBM).