No WiFi For You San Francisco, Vote Your Supervisors Out of Office on November 7th

Davis Freeberg’s Digital Connection � Blog Archive � San Francisco Local Politics Derail Free WiFi Project Davis Freeberg has an excellent first-hand report of last night’s Google/Earthlink town hall meeting regarding implementing Mayor Gavin Newsom’s innovative free wi-fi initiative in San Francisco. To recap, the Mayor promised us free wi-fi and previously suggested that it could be here by year end.

Now, after a competitive bidding and proposal process where no less than seven major companies were considered for the job, Google and Earthlink, the companies chosen to implement wi-fi, are being put through the wringer of San Francisco politics and it looks like free wi-fi by year end is seriously derailed.

My favorite quote from Freeberg’s article:

“Despite the announcement made last April free WiFi instead has turned out to be vaporware thus far with Google and Earthlink discovering that dealing with the local San Francisco political scene is about as fun as being set up on a blind date with Mike Tyson after being rubbed down in meat sauce.”

Update: CNN Money has picked up on Davis’ story now as well.

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  1. John Dowdell says:

    Hey, obstructionism is a valid occupational pursuit… 😉

    (Seriously, if there’s interest among varied parties in having getting some work done, and if it needs to pass through a political process before it can be finished, then anyone with sufficiently low ethics can threaten to obstruct it and collect a payoff. That’s the way San Francisco politics works. They’re speaking power to truth.)

  2. Albert says:


    Your headline to this post makes it seem like the WiFi project has been cancelled. But after reading your posted article, you don’t mention any reasons why you think San Fran won’t be getting WiFi.

    Is this just a prediction of yours, or is the process just taking longer than originally expected?

  3. Kimo C says:

    You should be blaming the Mayor who did a backroom deal with Google and then did no needs analysis or community buy-in before starting the RFI/RFP process.

    At the RFI process Google submitted a 100 page response with 90 of the pages completly readacted/blacked out.

    The City has had 6 public hearing on these issue so far and while other vendors have attended – neither Google or Earthlink have shown up.

    The RFP was basically written for Google. Yet, during the RFP process the city apparently destroyed the individual RFP ratings – only providing aggregate values and refused to provide the resumes of the people who performed the reviews.

    See the weekly update of negotiation status here:

    The promise of Universal free wifi was mainly to help the disadvantaged yet now they are being offered 300k best effort – if you got it fine, if not, oh well, and we see in general it’s spotty indoor coverage.

    You have a laptop probably many others don’t. And nonetheless even people with laptops in cities that have rolled this out (not really proven on a large scale) haven’t generally cancelled their wired access at home or work. Most people want a reliable indoor connection.

    In exchange, Earthlink gets access to all the city light poles and buildings for near automatic renewals for up to 16 years.

    Our Comcast agreement was only renewed for 4 years.

    Google’s giving Mtn Vw 1000k and didn’t commit to any of the now special privacy protections until SF started making making a stink.

    San Fancisco should continue to negotiate the best deal for the citizens and complete it’s Fiber and City owned studies before initiating any Franchise agreements with Earthlink.

  4. Eric Dynamic says:

    Here we are five months later. It’s revealed that Thomas Hawk wishes to throw out the Supervisors for wishing to give you a gigabit fiber connection instead of a free 300 kilobit wifi connection.

    No, vote people out of office for failing to give you horsehockey just because you want it and it’s free. Forget about the alternatives …

    me, I’ll take the fiber over assisting Google with anything ever, any day.