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Google/Earthlink Wins San Francisco WiFi Deal 149

Posted by Zonk
from the googlelink dept.
maximander wrote to mention coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle of that city's final decision on their city-wide WiFi system. They've chosen to go with Google and EarthLink. From the article: "In choosing to negotiate with the Google-EarthLink team, the city is going with two Internet giants with marque names. Both firms have deep pockets and proven track records online, but only limited experience building a large wireless network. The project, championed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, is intended to boost the city's technology credentials and help bridge the digital divide between the Internet haves and have-nots. It has also generated intense interest from other cities looking to build similar networks. "
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Google/Earthlink Wins San Francisco WiFi Deal

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  • by Tezkah (771144) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:45AM (#15076690)
    Anyone know when it will be out of beta?

    *ducks*
  • Not surprised... (Score:5, Informative)

    by PenguinBoyDave (806137) <david@dav[ ]eyer.org ['idm' in gap]> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:48AM (#15076724)
    This isn't much of a surprise. Google is a Bay area fixture, and Earthlink has a major focus on providing urban Broadband. The partnership of the two is a natural and will make SF a key example of what more metro areas need to be.
    • Interestingly [marketwatch.com], there is some opposition to Google's ad-supported free aspect of this service. You can't please everybody...
    • ...will make SF a key example of what more metro areas need to be.

      Well, maybe. But isn't anyone worried about turning cities into ISPs? Will they be faster and better at fixing net problems than potholes? What happens when the city supervisors decide some websites and newsgroups represent "hate" and must be banned? What happens when spammers bring their laptops to SF and spew out millions of spams? It seems to me there's a lot starry-eyed optimism about wireless access that's "free" (really taxpayer-fina
  • by mypalmike (454265) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:50AM (#15076753) Homepage
    The project, championed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, is intended to boost the city's technology credentials and help bridge the digital divide between the Internet haves and have-nots.

    The folks sleeping on the streets of the Tenderloin want their WiFi!
    • Re:WiFi, not Cash (Score:2, Insightful)

      by teledyne (325332)
      You make a good point... sure free Wifi will "bridge the digital divide between the Internet haves and have-nots" but will it bridge the divide between the computer haves and have-nots?

      Unfortunately this agreement between Google-Earthlink and the City of SF is only helping those many unemployed people get wifi access whose local coffee shop are to cheap to provide wifi access for their customers.

      Is this agreement going to increase computer accessibility to the poor? Are there going to be more computers at
      • Re:WiFi, not Cash (Score:4, Interesting)

        by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @02:29PM (#15078358) Homepage Journal
        whose local coffee shop are to cheap to provide wifi access for their customers.

        You say that as if it's a bad thing. There is nothing that says anyone must provide WiFi to anyone. Certainly nothing compelling a business to do so. Unless you mean a bunch of slackers using the shops electricity to power their laptops and occupying tables all the while ordering one cup of coffee.

        Don't confuse cheap with being sensible. Maybe the shops don't want to deal with the expense and hassle of setting up WiFi. Sure, you could always offer to do it (you did offer your services to those cheapies, right? Right?) but they're the ones who will still be stuck with maintaining the system.

        Just because you think a coffeeshop should be providing WiFi for your use doesn't mean they agree. You want access in a coffeeshop, go to someplace which offers it or start your own shop and offer WiFi.

    • The folks sleeping on the streets of the Tenderloin want their WiFi!

      Good God lad....LMFAO!

    • Well, T'loin folks just need to be tight with da Mayor like Larry and Sergey are [sfgate.com]...

    • The folks sleeping on the streets of the Tenderloin want their WiFi!
      Nice attempt at a troll. If you had bothered to read the article you would have seen the following:
      Both companies would share the cost of installing the necessary equipment, estimated at up to $12 million. San Francisco will pay nothing and actually reap some fees by leasing city property as perches for Wi-Fi antennas.
    • The folks sleeping on the streets of the Tenderloin want their WiFi!

      Maybe the have-nots can charge tourists for wireless connectivity...


    • It's true, nothing much is different for these folks, except that now the voices are saying "Buy and Sell Spare Change on EBay".
    • Haven't you seen the latest issue of Make? There's an article on turning your shopping cart in to a WiFi antenna...
  • by hansoloaf (668609) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `faolosnah'> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:50AM (#15076764)
    or political maneuvering from telecos in the California Legislature to put an end to this? I bet they will wait until Google/Earthlink nears completion - then they will try to pull the rug and take over themselves.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:51AM (#15076765)
    For those of you who can't be bothered to read TFA:


    San Francisco will pay nothing and actually reap some fees by leasing city property as perches for Wi-Fi antennas.

  • Bridging the gap? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by generic-man (33649)
    I've never seen a bum sitting out on the street with his laptop asking, "Wi-Fi connection? Spare a kilobit? Sir? Sir?" to passersby. Unless Mayor Newsom is handing out $100 laptops to vagrants on the street, I don't know how this bridges the gap between tech haves and have-nots. Any word on plans to provide more than radio waves to the have-nots?
    • by Buzz_Litebeer (539463) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:06PM (#15076927) Journal
      I think he is talking about the poor not the homeless. The poor are even getting to the point were they are purchasing machines, even second hand ones that you or I wouldnt pay for, but they are willing to pay a 100 bucks for and they then have a computer.

      A homeless man is another problem entirely. But for a poor person, all the sudden being able to use a cheap wifi connector and some knowhow to get internet for free instead of 45 a month will be a great boon.
      • by generic-man (33649)
        Don't libraries already offer free (filtered) Internet access to patrons with no equipment purchase necessary? I really have a hard time understanding the justification* for littering the city with wireless transmitters and claiming it will bridge any sort of gap, even if the city incurs no expense in doing so.

        * Other than "A Vote For Mayor Newsom is a Vote For Free Wifi!" posters at the local coffeehouse
        • by KFury (19522) *
          "Don't libraries already offer free (filtered) Internet access to patrons with no equipment purchase necessary? I really have a hard time understanding the justification* for littering the city with wireless transmitters and claiming it will bridge any sort of gap"

          Going to the library twice a week to check your email isn't the same thing as having a broadband 24/7 connection in your home. It's people who don't realize that who are holding the digital divide wide open, pushing with both arms.
          • Re:Bridging the gap? (Score:2, Interesting)

            by generic-man (33649)
            I know people my age who are perfectly capable of paying for DSL who don't feel a 24/7 broadband connection is a vital expense. Dial-up providers still cater to people for whom $10 a month is an acceptable cost for Internet access. This service is going to be speed-limited and ad-supported -- how do you even know it's going to be "broadband" for free?

            Tomorrow on Slashdot: some people claim not to own televisions, have landline phones, or read newspapers! How can we let this injustice stand?!
            • Let's drop this crap now, please.

              This service wasn't available before. Now it will be.

              Some people will take advantage - poor and non-poor alike. Those who are less poor will take more advantage, as usual.

              Some people won't take advantage. Many will be poor, some will not.

              So how does this make the whole project somehow a Bad Thing?

              In other words, if you don't have utopia, don't do anything at all? Is that your argument?

              As a guy who's been out sick for three weeks and can't make my current rent payment, while
            • "I know people my age who are perfectly capable of paying for DSL who don't feel a 24/7 broadband connection is a vital expense."

              Who said 'vital expense'? I know people who think that $0/month is less of a financial hardship than $10/month.

              "This service is going to be speed-limited and ad-supported -- how do you even know it's going to be "broadband" for free?"

              Because I can RTFA, specifically the part that says the free access will operate at 300kbps, which is 6 times faster than dialup, doesn't tie up your
      • by goldspider (445116)
        "But for a poor person, all the sudden being able to use a cheap wifi connector and some knowhow to get internet for free instead of 45 a month will be a great boon.

        If only the poor's problems stemmed from not having Internet access.

        This is California. Initiatives like this are more about gaining status among the entitlement demographic than any genuine desire to address poverty.
  • It would be good to see one of these city wireless plans finally come to fruition;
    Philadelphia has been having a tough time finally getting its own initiative off the ground . . .
    http://www.wirelessphiladelphia.org/ [wirelessphiladelphia.org]

    I also look forward to seeing evidence that these initiatives are bridging the 'digital divide' in these cities.
  • Replacement? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by fusto99 (939313)
    From the article... "It remains to be seen whether residents will use the Wi-Fi system as a replacement for their existing wire-based Internet connections. Early fears by the mayor that the telecommunications industry would fight against the project by filing lawsuits have yet to materialize." As we've seen with people willing to pay extra for the faster speeds of Cable over DSL, I doubt many people will use it as a replacement for broadband. You can also think about how many people use NetZero's free dia
    • "...people use NetZero's free dialup server instead of paying for another dialup provider such as Earthlink."

      Just out of curiosity, I went to NetZero's site...to see about 'free' dial up, in case I'm travelling somewhere and that would be only alternative.

      I can't find on their site where the FREE accounts can be had....any ideas?

      • You need to use Windows to get Netzero's free access. I visited their site with Camino and Safari on Mac OS X and saw only paid access. I visited their site with Windows, clicked "Join Now" in the upper right corner, scrolled way to the bottom, and saw a "FREE!" link.

        According to the fine print, the NetZero free service is limited to 10 hours per household per month. Telephone tech support costs $2 per minute.
    • For $20/month, with SBC DSL going for $14/month (for new customers only, I still have to pay $26.95), I doubt existing customers will switch. But some will switch to the 300Kbps free ad version.

      I wouldn't switch to the $20/month for my desktop because I get a full 1.5Mbps on my DSL, and the $20 only offers 1Mbps. However, once I get a laptop, I definitely would use the 300Kbps free service for email checking and surfing, and maybe the $20/month service for my PC tech support business - it will be nice being
  • by Xichekolas (908635) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:04PM (#15076911)

    Chances are that no one will read this because I am languishing in Bad Karma Hell, but just wondering... why provide this great free WiFi in the name of the poor? Did someone miss the fact that you need a computer to get on the net? City wide WiFi is a great idea and all... but it helps the middle class more than anyone. Unless you bundle it with some kind of computer giveaway or those fabled $100 laptops, it's not going to be the 'great internet equalizer' or lead to any kind of social equity...

    • Unless you bundle it with some kind of computer giveaway or those fabled $100 laptops, it's not going to be the 'great internet equalizer' or lead to any kind of social equity...

      It's not hard to buy a $100 computer. It's not going to be particular new or (in my opinion) particularly useable, but you can get one.

      Just check craigslist or your local flea market or swap meet. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if computer donation charities get a growth spurt
      because of this wifi program. Check out some links like
    • I recently got a 1GHz Athlon with a 256MB of RAM and a 20GB disk. Where did it come from? The local tip. This machine is more than adequate for getting on the Internet. I have been unable to give away machines about half that speed. Desktop machines are practically free these days, unless you want something that is overpowered for 95% of users.
    • why provide this great free WiFi in the name of the poor? Did someone miss the fact that you need a computer to get on the net?

      Well, a dirt cheap computer is under $500 with everything they'd need. Dial-up ranges from $120 to $300 per year, and broadband starts at about $500 (at least around here). With free Internet access, someone could buy a computer and get on the Internet for about the cost of a year of broadband. Sounds like a good deal to me. The lower middle class and upper lower class will be
  • by farker haiku (883529) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:13PM (#15077001) Journal
    I wonder if this will cause a decrease in the number of people who are interested in learning how to hack someone's wireless simply because they want to be able to use a network where ever they go. It'd be interesting if the simple act of making a blanket wifi network for a city caused a distinct lack of interest in hacking wireless.

    disclaimer:
    Yes, by hacking I mean using someone elses tools to break someones WEP or WPA-PSK encrypted network. Is there a word for script kiddying? skidding?
  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:21PM (#15077072)
    Am I the only one that sees the proliferation of WiFi as a major network security problem? Seems you cant go anyplace without being able to find an open wireless network. Someplace around my office has not just an open network, but an open intercontinental network. If I dont turn off the 802.11 function on my laptop I'll see computer systems in tokyo.

    So the problem is thus, people in my office, connected to our LAN are also connected to this wide open network where all sorts of bad things could be roaming free. Windows and MacOS both seem to automaticly connect to these rogue networks and thus bypass any local network security I can enforce.

    • MacOS both seem to automaticly connect to these rogue networks and thus bypass any local network security I can enforce.

      Huh?
      MacOS can not find the preferred wireless network. Would you like to connect to "linksys"?

      How is that automatically connecting to a rogue AP?
    • Windows XP:
      go to your wireless icon (there are other ways to get where i'm going, this is the one i know): select view available wireless networks.
      in 'related tasks' choose 'change advanced settings' (another way to get to this point, go to network connections, select your wireless network, right click and select properties).

      Go to the wireless networks tab.

      Click advanced.

      Uncheck the box that says 'automatically connect to non-preferred networks'.

      And be sure to remove any networks you don't want to connect t
    • Am I the only one that sees the proliferation of WiFi as a major network security problem?

      No. People who fear EM radiation causes cancer are also worried.

      Someplace around my office has not just an open network, but an open intercontinental network. If I dont turn off the 802.11 function on my laptop I'll see computer systems in tokyo.

      You automatically connect to wireless networks with your default setup? You have bigger problems than a city wi-fi program.

      So the problem is thus, people in my office,

    • Interesting thought. $100Laptop+Wifi+Homeless_Living_on_the_street = ? Possible data entry jobs? Possible way to bring out the homeless?
    • jsut an fyi.. one of the screwy ways you can help protect your stuff is when you send out DHCP packets including a custom routing table that forces everything to run through your network..

      then on your router block access to the networks that are rogue (if they are routable) and then watch to see who is trying to send to them and go shut them down.

      if you have a computer (windows and mac) with two interfaces and one is dhcp and gets a static routing table for all subnets to it's gateway then when something tr
    • > Windows and MacOS both seem to automaticly connect to these rogue networks and thus bypass any local network security I can enforce.

      Put machines that might have wifi on the far end of a DMZ. Wifi isn't magical. There's no hacking with wifi that you couldn't do with an ethernet cable.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Good try! but I'm sure as past posts have mentioned as soon as this thing comes close to being real (ie. the first AP comes online), the Telcos will put pressure on the powers that be to stall , or otherwise get a cut of the action for themselves.. Look at New Orleans and all their strife.. too much entrenched interest are at stake. But its nice to see some cities having the fortitude to try it.. Out of curiosity what is the largest metro wifi in place today?
  • Not good news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drwho (4190)
    The Google/Earthlink deal is not good for consumers: The use of proprietary technologies and hand-picked 'competitors' promise nothing more than another tightly controlled network. So now there will be Cable, DSL, and Googlink. Whoop-de-doo - the illusion of freedom.

    It would have been better to implement something like RoofNet, which is fully open source and runs on off-the-shelf components. It's high performance, well tested, and in use here in Cambridge. There will be some add-ons to it made by my company
  • As a former Earthlink employee (I know, who isn't these days) I can tell you first hand that there is no Scientology propaganda in the break rooms, despite the President being a strong beliver in its, um...benefits.

    However...

    Half of Hollywood already follows his UFO religion displayed by poster boy Tom Cruise. His Austrian convert is worming his way into more and more govenment workings. Now his followers are taking over the wireless waves. We really should have seen this coming.

    I can't help but wo

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:36PM (#15077229) Homepage Journal
    It is really funny seeing Google playing the "big name with deep pockets" game so soon after their IPO. So much for "great technology with insightful capital".

    I put together the technical end of the first municiple mesh in the US using LocustWorld meshboxes. It happened only because I moved out of silicon valley to a small town with no municiple bureaucracy to schmooze up. There were just some folks who wanted wireless for tourists coming through their town and we even got it set up so the local ISP didn't get put out of business by the tax subsidy. They took some bids from guys that had no "pockets" or "marquee" at all, and got a solution. I look around at the solemn rhetoric about the wireless mesh in New Orleans subsequent to Katrina, and the rhetoric about rich and poor in San Francisco's wireless access and just thank my lucky stars I'm out here with a bunch of "inbred hicks who don't know what leading edge technology is."

  • We students are getting reamed by Comcast. Give us some free WiFi over here!
    • Imagine that; someone from Berkely calling a tax-funded government service "free".
      • Nice troll, but the truth is that this project is not tax-funded. In fact, google / earthlink will be leasing antenna location space from the city, generating revenue for SF. Google / Earthlink intend to pay for the whole thing from ad revenue.
  • Missing The Point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by totalbasscase (907682) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @01:00PM (#15077490)
    Nobody's saying every resident of San Francisco needs to cancel their broadband and use Googlink. It's just convenient. I can't wait for the day if/when a similar project comes to fruition in NYC, and I can just open my laptop wherever I want and be online. It's a freedom students enjoy on college campuses that we start to take for granted... until we get home for the summer. And it's a bummer.

    People can keep their Comcast or Verizon or whoever does their high-speed at home... but now your local municipality provides access to the sum total of the world's information wherever you want it. About damn time.
  • Not a huge surprise -- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome is good friends with Larry and Sergei [sfgate.com].
  • by na641 (964251)
    Damn... i was hoping AOL would win that deal. *shakes fist
  • Doesn't San Fran already have WiFi everywhere? I mean.. there's 108 [starbucks.com] Starbucks within a 10-mile radius..
  • These startup executives seem completely intent on raising publicity by announcing these grand wireless projects but have never made them happen and their location is so far away from the population that they're never used.

    San Francisco is a tourist attraction. No-one actually lives there or works there and no-one is going to use a wireless network there. Most of the population lives in the east bay and works in the south bay. That's where a wireless network would be most valuable, but saying you're inst
  • The project, championed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, is intended to boost the city's technology credentials and help bridge the digital divide between the Internet haves and have-nots.

    Of course, the have-nots are going to need to *have* a computer to make use of this technology. Most of the have-nots do not-have a computer, let alone a wireless laptop that tends to be more expensive than a desktop. I love when mayors pretend to bridge the gap, but instead grow the gap.


  • I saw the proposals for this (they were all publically available on the website), and I must say the Google/Earthlink proposal was definitely the best looking proposal as far as being polished. They'd obviously put some serious work and time on it, while the other proposals mostly looked like some guy did them in Word one night. And a few were seriously ratty. If you were going for professionalism and thought that the proposal was a good indicator of what you might expect, then Google/Earthlink was the easy
  • On the one hand, I'm a conservative. Small government, stay the hell out of my way. On the other hand, basic communications (internet, telephone, and dare I say it, cell) should be available to anyone cheap and fair. As a capitalist, I see the opportunities for a greater chance ofnew jobs in the sector, if privatived, yet on the other hand, if privatived, a problem with the whole "cheap and fair," part. The other part that worries me is that all of these ciies (New Orleans, Seattle, San Fran) are all do
  • "with marque names"

    Does this mean they have been given Letters of Marque? [wikipedia.org]

    Let the privateering begin!

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