Google and Earthlink are struggling to sell their San Francisco WiFi plan to residents and community activists. The duo held a community meeting on Tuesday, which Davis Freeberg says was populated by a circus of crazed gadflies — another meeting is planned for tonight. I attended the first meeting, and an Earthlink exec said the network would take at least 18 months to launch — obviously not meeting the end of the year timeline that some had hoped for, which isn’t too surprising to our readers.
Freeberg points out the difficulties of San Francisco politics, and makes a lot of good points, but it’s hard to be that sympathetic to Earthlink and Google — two for-profit companies that will likely make significant money off of the network if it ever gets launched. Earthlink has been facing city politics in all of its bids, and Google has experience with Mountain View residents. It’s the basic business of municipal WiFi to deal with confused, ignorant, and demanding residents. Some cities just have more than others.