Google & Earthlink Selected for San Francisco Wi-Fi Project
Google and Earthlink today were awarded the projects of supplying the city of San Francisco with both free and paid Wi-Fi services. After a six week review, the San Francisco Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) approved the project and will now begin finalizing negotiations with the two companies – which will be working together to build the $15 million TechConnect Wi-Fi network.
â€œSan Francisco has undertaken a thorough, innovative, and transparent process to reach an audacious goal: free wifi for our residents,â€ said DTIS Executive Director Chris Vein. â€œBy undertaking two competitive processes, we asked the citizens of San Francisco what they thought we should do and we asked the best and brightest technical minds what they thought we should do. Todayâ€™s announcement will take us one step closer to making universal and affordable broadband a reality.â€
Six different proposals were submitted to San Francisco for the Wi-Fi project and were reviewed by a panel consisting of city employees and a consulting firm. Other finalists passed over by the city included Communication Bridge Global; NextWLAN; Razortooth Communications LLP; MetroFi and SF Metro Connect, a partnership that includes SeaKay, Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corp.
Google’s part of the Wi-Fi project will be supplying the advertising supported free wireless Internet access, in part of what it calls a local search advertising experiment and what may possibly be a doorway to national Google Wi-Fi plans.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Google’s interest came as a surprise to many because the company’s primary focus is as a search engine; it’s the nation’s leader. Google executives have said that they consider the project an experiment for testing online advertising based on where a user is located. Some have speculated that this could be a seed for a national Google Wi-Fi network, though Google has said it currently has no plans to do so.
Earthlink will be concentrating on the more powerful, advertising free paid version of the Wi-Fi system, which will cost users $20 per month.