Google Bidding To Provide Free Wi-Fi To San Francisco

Google has joined the competition along with 11 other companies including as Earthlink to provide San Francisco residents and visitors with free wi-fi. San Francisco expects to decide on a vendor within weeks. If Google is selected, it says it could have a network up and running within weeks, as well. Google says it doesn't have plans to expand free wi-fi beyond San Francisco, though the company has already said previously that it sees helping promote universal internet access as part of its corporate mission. Below, a round-up of coverage on the news.

According to Om Malik's post from Friday:

Google officials say San Francisco residents (and visitors) will enjoy a free 300 kilobits per second, always on connection anywhere in the city. As part of its proposal, the company says it will be offering wholesale access to other service providers, who will offer higher throughput connections to their customers.

Verne Kopytoff and Ryan Kim in the SF Chronicle add that Google isn't the only company bidding on the project.

Google's was one of more than a dozen competing bids received by the city before its deadline Friday. Officials will review the submissions and decide which, if any, of the candidates gets the green light...

The article goes on to mention that Google's Chris Sacca, the person in charge of Google's bid, hasn't determined yet if paid ads will be part of the service but will sell access to the network for companies who want to offer paid services. Coverage from the Associated Press is also here.

In case you're wondering a spokesperson for the SF Mayor Gavin Newsome said the decision would be made in weeks not months and that Google will receive NO advantage because of their high profile (aka just being Google).

At this point I could ask what any of this has to do with search and organizing the world's info, but doing that is old, repetitive, and a waste of time. Plus, Google is into what Google is into which is just about everything. With their published corporate mission statement, they are able to spin just about anything into being about organizing info and providing access to it. I even joked about that last April Fools Day. (Postscript from Danny: Google has said promoting internet access is part of its corporate mission, as explained here).

A day after the news came out, Google in San Francisco: 'Wireless overlord'? from gives a rundown on what are people saying. Some wonder about Google knowing to much about their users.

"They will know much more information about your activities" than they can glean from a stationary PC, Ira Victor, managing partner for security information firm Data Clone Labs, said in an interview.

One thing is for sure, this Wi-Fi info could provide truly "local" and if required, time-sensitive search advertising if Google decided to provide ads. You're using Google Wi-Fi and hitting tower near the 1600 block of Market Street at 11:20 am. Then, an ad appears asking you if you're interested in walking just a few steps and having lunch at the Zuni Cafe at 1658 Market St? If you make reservations via the Google Reservation and Ticket Service (just guessing about this initiative), you'll get 10% off lunch, 20% if you come between 1-2:30pm. You'll also get a Google t-shirt (some autographed by Google execs), and a chance to win a ride aboard the new NASAGOOGLE spaceship. Heck, if you're also a Google AdWords customer, they'll knock a few bucks off of your next bill. (-:

By the way, Dan Gillmor also touches on the Google vs. privacy issue in his blog post saying it's an issue that keeps appearing. More on that topic later.

Others in the blogosphere speculate what this might do to the telecom industry and many agree that Google is once again driving innovation. Let's also not forget Google's plans to build it's own telecom network.

Of course, since Google's bid is one of many and it will not be getting any special attention (-:, we'll have to wait and see if they even have the opportunity to provide the service.