Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Google/Earthlink Wins San Francisco WiFi Deal 149

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. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google/Earthlink Wins San Francisco WiFi Deal

Comments Filter:
  • by hansoloaf ( 668609 ) <> 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 rewinn ( 647614 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:52AM (#15076781) Homepage

    "Google, in Mountain View, intends to provide the free, so-called Wi-Fi access. The service it proposes would be faster than dial-up but slower than a typical broadband connection. In its joint bid, Earthlink plans to offer speedier access, but for a fee.

    It looks like the entire scheme is a classic "the first dose is free but the good stuff'll cost ya" scheme. That's not necessarily a bad way to go, to implement a public good while preserving competitive incentives.

  • Replacement? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by fusto99 ( 939313 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:53AM (#15076799)
    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 dialup server instead of paying for another dialup provider such as Earthlink. I guess time will tell though on what affect it has on competitors.
  • 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...

  • 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.
  • Not good news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drwho ( 4190 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:22PM (#15077092) Homepage Journal
    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, XA Networks [], but compatibility with the open-source software is guaranteed.
  • Re:WiFi, not Cash (Score:2, Insightful)

    by teledyne ( 325332 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:51PM (#15077389)
    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 the public library branches located throughout the city? Don't push your luck.
  • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:52PM (#15077410) Homepage Journal
    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
  • 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.
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) * on Thursday April 06, 2006 @01:02PM (#15077501) Homepage
    "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.
  • by planetmn ( 724378 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @01:11PM (#15077610)
    I think that if the citizens of a town really want to finance this boondoggle (it isn't being provided freely by Earthlink and Google right?), let them do it.

    And from the article:
    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.

    We have 3 cheap WiFi providers in the area (very cheap), we have DSL and we have Cable, and now we have 2 more wired providers who are testing the waters. I see no reason to give free access on the taxpayer's backs.

    See above. Also, most people don't have those options. Most people, have the access to cable modem, some have access to DSL or other methods. But in most of the country, many choices don't exist. Also, most of these services are available because the companies were allowed right-of-way access to install the infrastructure. Access mandated by, you guessed it, the government.

    Since you are an "anarcho-capitalist" (does this mean that if your house is on fire you don't call and use the services of the fire department? If it snows, do you make sure not to drive on the roads that the gov't plows?) You should love this idea. It is capitalism at it's best, companies competing to provide a service to consumers, at no cost to the government, nor the user.

  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <.ardrake79. .at.> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @02:11PM (#15078166) Homepage
    "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.
  • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:17PM (#15081484) Homepage
    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 still making my $33 DSL/phone bill, I say this service will come in handy for some poor people. Considering that SBC DSL goes for $14/month now, most people will desktops won't bother with the $20 Wi-Fi, although some who only do email may go for the 300Kbps free ad version. But anybody with a laptop will find $20/month for city-wide access appealing and even more will find the free ad version appealing since most of the time external laptop use is just for email checking anyway.

    There's nothing wrong with this service. It will help some people and not help others. Nobody said it was going to solve all urban problems.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351