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Google A Finalist For S.F. WiFi

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The City of San Francisco has winnowed its list of potential wireless broadband providers to five, and Google is one of the quintet that made the cut.

Google slipped its proposal to provide San Francisco with wireless Internet service at nearly the last minute, shocking rivals like EarthLink and others who had hoped to land a lucrative contract themselves. The Google deal offered to put up the equipment, pay the city for access rights to the locations, and provide 300kbps service to anyone with a wireless card in their computer.

Search Engine Watch pointed to Om Malik’s report that the Google proposal has made it to the next stage, along with four other companies: EarthLink, Hewlett-Packard, MetroFi, and Skytel/MCI.

Google’s proposal would include upgrading the network from current 802.11a/b to 802.11n when that faster wireless standard becomes approved. It is also possible that Google could provide faster access beyond the 300kbps service for a monthly fee.

One response to Malik’s post indicated what could happen next in the process:

While the San Francisco did feature the Five turnkey solutions as part of their RFI/C summary of the 26 submittals. It’s probably not accurate to call it the short list.

An RFP now has to be created. And after the hearing today (12/16) in City Hall, it sounds like there will be a lot of rethinking – the Supervisors were pretty upset with the lack of transparency in the process for something that has the potential to replace the Comcast (cable) and SBC (phone) franchises in the city.

Also, pretty much everyone was uncomfortable with the idea of selling the public’s privacy to pay for a free-to-the-city WiFi solution.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Google A Finalist For S.F. WiFi
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