San Francisco’s MuniFi Mess

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.

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