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Summary:

A story in the San Francisco Examiner this weekend says that the rift is growing between those that think San Francisco’s planned city WiFi network should be owned and run by the Earthlink/Google team, versus those that think a network should be owned by the city: […]

A story in the San Francisco Examiner this weekend says that the rift is growing between those that think San Francisco’s planned city WiFi network should be owned and run by the Earthlink/Google team, versus those that think a network should be owned by the city:

At a meeting of the Local Agency Formation Commission on Friday, Supervisors Jake McGoldrick and Ross Mirkarimi indicated that the Board of Supervisors may soon vote to make San Francisco’s proposed public Internet service the property of The City.

Such a decision could put the Supervisors in conflict with the Mayor’s plan for the Google/Earthlink deal, and would no doubt stall the city’s network considerably. Considering it has already taken the city this long to make the Earthlink/Google decision, we’re not sure if a sudden 360 turn would be in the city’s best interests. But we’re mostly wondering why a publicly-owned network is being investigated after this deal has been done already and not before?

On this recent news Craig Settles, WiFi analyst, says:

“this turn of events provides a very strong lesson on why cities that are considering, or are in the process of planning their networks, must execute a thorough and inclusive constituent-needs analysis and technology due-diligence. Based on what I have observed of their activities, had the people driving this initiative taken their time to first do the type of focus groups Philly did with the diversity of constituent groups, plus executed one or two pilot projects, there would not have been the steady drumbeat of constituent and activist discontent.”
On that note, Philadelphia sent out launch party invitations for its city-wide wireless network today, which will be held on November 30th.
Update: Esme Vos adds her thoughts on the SF network.
  1. This type of foolishness is common in SF where the leaders are unable to run the MUNI on time, keep the roads fixed and the city clean or solve its major crimes. But they are quite ready to mess around with WiFi. They’ll probably debate this issue as long as it took them to decide on a design for the Bay Bridge – somewhere between 12 to 15 years.

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  2. As a former San Francisco resident and property owner, I must admit that I am SHOCKED that this is going on. Imagine petty politics getting in the way of progress in San Francisco.

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  3. Just a note… a 360 turn puts you going in the same direction as you originally were.

    180 goes the opposite direction…
    90 and 270 would be right / left or left / right turns…

    But, I guess you can define your own coordinate system if you’d like.

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  4. Katie

    You say “But we’re mostly wondering why a publicly-owned network is being investigated after this deal has been done already”

    The deal isn’t done.

    While it is true that it was essentially a backroom deal between the mayor and Google – they had to have ‘window dressing’ procedures: these were the RFI and RFP for which the detailed scoring records have been destroyed. The Barbary Coast is alive and well in San Francisco. :-)

    The current status is: ongoing negotiations between the city and the RFP winner Earthlink/Google (surprise). Earthlink could leave the table and then MetroFi would be the second selection.

    Or the Board of Supervisors might be able to push for a publically owned solution maybe a Fiber First solution like Seattle with spot WiFi coverage where needed.

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  5. From a resident:

    A SF owned and run utility service? That’s an absolutely ridiculous idea. Does the city own the cable network? The telecom network? The wireless phone network? The terrestrial TV network? You think those services are bad now? Imagine if the post office took over your phone service? How about having the same efficiency in the SF WiFi network as the SF owned and run Muni bus/light-rail network? Packets arriving 70% on-time, often not at all or just plain skipping right by you if the network is busy!!!

    Government exists to protect the downtrodden, re-distribute wealth and regulate – NOT TO OWN AND OPERATE!

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