Google Offers San Fran Free Wi-Fi
Google has come in with the lowest bid for the contract to provide universal wireless Internet access to the entire city of San Francisco: free.
Google Inc. has offered to blanket San Francisco with free wireless Internet access at no cost to the city, placing a marquee name behind Mayor Gavin Newsom’s effort to get all residents online whether they are at home, in a park or in a cafe.
The offer by the popular Mountain View search engine 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 to build the so called Wi-Fi service, which would be free or inexpensive for users.
In joining the competition, Google is showing yet another sign of its ambition. In the past few months, the company has released a succession of new products, including instant messaging and Internet telephone calls, that take it further from its roots.
The proposal raises speculation that Google intends to create a free national Wi-Fi network, a business in which the company has limited experience. If so, it could pose a serious challenge to existing Internet service providers such as SBC-Yahoo, Earthlink, Comcast and America Online, which charge subscriptions for wire connections.
“This is a great opportunity to provide a community service to the Bay Area,” said Chris Sacca, who oversaw Google’s bid in San Francisco. “This furthers the goal of providing access to all residents and visitors on as wide a scale as possible.”
This will be a hard offer to turn down.