Print 22 comment(s) - last by apriest.. on Apr 6 at 11:53 PM

San Francisco residents rejoice! Citywide Wi-Fi Internet is on the way

When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the city's plans to offer a free Wi-Fi network in October 2004, he hoped to prove that the plan wasn't too far fetched.  A city panel has chosen Google and Earthlink for wireless Internet across the city of San Francisco.  Google will offer a free Internet service funded by advertising and Earthlink will offer higher access speeds with a paid service for around $20 per month. If the deal is successfully completed, everyone within city limits will have access to free and/or affordable Internet access.  Google and Earthlink will now complete negotiations with the city -- both sides hope a deal will be completed soon.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

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.

The project that could cost as much as $15 million may begin as early as next year.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Let them do it.
By obeseotron on 4/6/2006 12:23:09 PM , Rating: 2
Aren't Google and Earthlink putting up most of the money to build this thing? I'm a free market guy too (graduating with Econ degree in 1 month), but realistically to offer a service like this some type of public/private partnership is necessary, if only to streamline the private sector's ability to truly blanket the city with wifi. I mean it only has a range of 100-200 feet, it would be a logistical nightmare for a company to have to negotiate itself into every spot that would need an access point.

If the people of San Francisco want this then they can have it. It's their tax money, they get to elect their leaders, if they elect people that want to spend tax money on this, so be it. Democracies are allowed to determine the mixure of capitalism and social policies as they see fit, they all do it from the US on one end to Sweden on the other.

RE: Let them do it.
By masher2 on 4/6/2006 12:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
> "If the people of San Francisco want this then they can have it..."

Statements such as this are why our Founding Fathers feared democracy, and rejected it in favor of a republic. The idea than anything under the sun is moral and legal-- so long as 51% of the people can be persuaded to vote for it-- is a dangerous one.

RE: Let them do it.
By JAH on 4/6/2006 12:47:16 PM , Rating: 2
I don't want to get off topic here and debate our (pardon me if you're not American) polical system, but we also have what it's call "majority rule, minority rights" in our democracy to counter mob rules. Now, how often that statement is put to use...

RE: Let them do it.
By masher2 on 4/6/2006 1:18:09 PM , Rating: 2
> "we also have what it's call "majority rule, minority rights" in our democracy..."

We have a Republic, not a Democracy. The word "democracy" is not mentioned anywhere in the US Constitution...and with good reason. That form of government was considered and rejected by our Founding Fathers.

Don't they teach this in schools any more?

> "Now, how often that statement is put to use... "

Not often San Francisco provides daily proof.

RE: Let them do it.
By apriest on 4/6/2006 11:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
Masher2, it's incredibly refreshing to hear from another true American that understands our form of government and what capitalism is. You've said everything in your posts to this topic that my wife and I were going to say. Keep up the good work! And no, our government run schools only teach what they want to promote, so they teach little of our republic, the Constitution, or our founding fathers, but that's a whole different topic.

Bottom line, this is way outside the jurisdiction, authority, or responsibility of any civil government. No good will come of it, no matter how pretty it might look on the surface.

RE: Let them do it.
By JAH on 4/6/2006 12:36:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well said.

Also, just because the City offers this free service, doesn't mean they're banning all other services, so you still have choices. I for one will not abandon my Comcast high-speed cable access for my home just because of this. Comcast might not be everybody's cup of tea, but for me personally, they're been great - very fast, almost no downtime, and good service.

RE: Let them do it.
By masher2 on 4/6/2006 1:11:05 PM , Rating: 2
> "Also, just because the City offers this free service, doesn't mean they're banning all other services"

It amounts to a de facto ban. Everyone in the city is going to receive this service-- and pay for it from their taxes. What company can compete against a competitor with a state-mandated 100% market share?

> "I for one will not abandon my Comcast high-speed cable access for my home just because of this"

We mean competition in wireless service, obviously. If your city goverment began offering free wired service, you'd soon see Comcast withdraw from the market.

RE: Let them do it.
By themusgrat on 4/6/2006 2:39:27 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Also, while people don't think that this is the government's job, providing good public transportation is. If you think about it, we don't really need cars to survive, do we? Except, some of us do. Our jobs and livelihoods depend upon public transportation. And the internet could almost be considered "public transportation," since the traffic on it is fast replacing other forms of transportation. As our country and ultimately the whole world is moving toward the internet, it will become the government's job to provide some way for everybody to access it. It won't be long before the government fugures out that doing all their paperwork would be easier and less expensive by internet. I predict that in 20 years, internet service will be free to every individual.

RE: Let them do it.
By Thrawn on 4/6/2006 3:13:29 PM , Rating: 2
I can partly agree to this if it is absolutely minimum based. As is make sure that everyone has 56K internet avalable to them at no cost. But high bandwidth connections as well as other advanced services should always be free market. Also it would be better if the low speed connection was still a compony but was just government paid.

Oh and for anyone wondering I don't like govenment run city Wifi networks like these because it is a killer of better access methods.

Why not?
By egrefen on 4/6/2006 11:06:25 AM , Rating: 2
This is one step towards having a unified and free wifi network available everywhere, and all people have found to say in the above three posts is "WHINE WHINE BITCH WHINE THE GOV'T IS DOING SOMETHING FOR US I MEAN WTF???!!!"

Goddamn, when did people get so jaded and counterproductive?

RE: Why not?
By hcazorp on 4/6/2006 11:15:23 AM , Rating: 4
Well, some of us believe that government itself is inefficent, bureaucratic and counterproductive. Handing over Internet access to a bunch of thugs who already have no respect for property or privacy is nothing to cheer about. Anyway, to the apolitical out there, enjoy your "free" wi-fi. Big Brother appreciates your support.

RE: Why not?
By RandomFool on 4/6/2006 11:17:40 AM , Rating: 2
I think people are more upset with the idea they are spending all that money on something as trivial as internet access. When there are other more important things it could be spent on.

RE: Why not?
By masher2 on 4/6/2006 11:42:51 AM , Rating: 2
> "This is one step towards having a unified and free wifi network available everywhere..."

Because its neither unified nor free. Its paid for with government taxes...and history has taught us that such services are considerably more expensive in the long run.

Furthermore, government paid services are government-controlled as well. If a private provider begins censoring material or cutting off customers, one can move to the competition, or even sue in certain cases. But a free government service kills all competition...and gives us, eventually, less value and freedom of choice.

Why by Government?
By TomZ on 4/6/2006 10:51:21 AM , Rating: 2
Why is the government offering this service, which could be provided by a private company or companies? Since when is it in the government's charter, or expertise, to provide Internet service to its citizens?

With government, less is more. We need to get them to focus on working on what is crucial.

RE: Why by Government?
By masher2 on 4/6/2006 11:36:17 AM , Rating: 2
> "Since when is it in the government's charter, or expertise, to provide Internet service to its citizens?"

Ah, but we're discussing San Francisco here. A city that believes the proper role of government is...everything.

RE: Why by Government?
By TheLiberalTruth on 4/6/2006 3:32:52 PM , Rating: 3
*GASP* God, don't let the government provide a service for us! It might cost less than comparable private options. It might provide a better service than the private sector does. Oh, no! It's COMMUNISM. Bullshit. Sit down and shut up, McCarthy.

RE: Why by Government?
By masher2 on 4/6/06, Rating: 0
Did anyone actually read the article?
By Kuroyama on 4/6/2006 3:35:29 PM , Rating: 2
Since it seems no one actually looked at the article, note that it says "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... After a contract is agreed upon, the issue goes to the Board of Supervisors and various city departments for permitting." This is something like the FCC and TV in a sense, the Feds don't pay for us to have free TV through the airwaves, they merely give the TV stations the right to offer free TV.

The only vague point in the article was at the end, "Next on San Francisco's to-do list is for the city's technology department to negotiate the contract with Google and EarthLink, a process that can take several months." I'm not sure what this means, but based on past articles I suspect this is related to the city's use of the new wi-fi network. It seems the network may actually reduce their network costs, so unless the city intends to subsidize this by heavily overpaying for use then I don't see where everyone gets off on ranting against government spending.

By masher2 on 4/6/2006 3:54:58 PM , Rating: 2
> "I don't see where everyone gets off on ranting against government spending..."

Its not a rant against spending, but rather against government meddling in the market, to the eventual detriment of consumers. History gives us countless prior examples of similar government actions, and their inevitable ill effects.

This contract specifies two service types-- free and paid. The free service will be paid for with advertising, and the paid service has no price set yet. Both, however, are going to get premium locations for transmitter locations at below-market rates. That dries up the competition fairly thoroughly.

Now, the "free" service is only slightly faster than dialup-- and much of that bandwidth is going to be eaten up with forced advertising. How much exactly? The contract doesn't specify...but it will certainly be higher than the current free options in the city. Don't like the slow connection filled with ads? Sorry- we got a contract, buddy.

The same goes for the paid service. Once they have the contract and all the access points in place, what incentive do they have to keep lowering costs and improving service? None whatsoever...their sole incentive is to keep a few politicos buttered up whenever the contract comes up for grabs.

Technology Have-nots... in SF?
By Eris23007 on 4/6/2006 10:40:22 AM , Rating: 3
I lived near SF for two years... The only technology 'have-nots' in that city were the homeless folks, who don't, and won't, have laptops with which to access the WiFi network anyway.

This is just another way for them to waste their (ridiculously high) local taxes. Bah.

Anway - anyone who's ever done any war-driving in SF knows it's virtually impossible to find a place that doesn't *already* have WiFi coverage from all the private nets.

Plus, what happens when 802.16 (WiMax) gets really going and this stuff is all super-obsolete?

On the other hand, it does give them yet another thing to be smug about... (with all due credit to Matt & Trey)

By nyarrgh on 4/6/2006 4:28:25 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know what anyone's afraid of. As stated in the article, SF will NOT be paying for it. If you don't like it, get service with somebody else and pay for it. I don't even think this is really for SF residents per se, this is probably really for attracting more business travelers. Another checbox marked or bulletpoint added in the list of "amenities" a city provides.

I dont get it
By Homerboy on 4/6/2006 11:00:35 AM , Rating: 1
Why do cities feel that offering WiFi access has become the publics right? Since when is internet access required to survive etc?

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki