April 6, 2006

EarthLink, Google tapped for San Francisco Wi-FI

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A San Francisco city commission has selected a joint bid by Web search leader Google Inc. and Internet service provider EarthLink Inc. to provide free wireless access throughout the city.

The Department of Telecommunications and Information Services said late on Wednesday that the city will begin contract negotiations with EarthLink and Google to create a widely available wireless broadband network across San Francisco.

The EarthLink proposal edged out runner-up MetroFi and four other bidders, the city government said in a statement.

EarthLink and Google are working with wireless equipment suppliers Motorola Inc. and Tropos Networks to construct a mobile network for residents, businesses, municipal government and visitors.

Google has said it plans to offer free wireless access supported by advertising. EarthLink will offer services aimed at business users and to support local government activities.

EarthLink also has been selected to build a municipal Wi-Fi network for the city of Philadelphia, and more recently, for Milpitas, California, in Silicon Valley.

Donald Berryman, president of EarthLink's municipal networks unit said in a statement: "We look forward to taking the next step to negotiate a contract to build a municipal wireless broadband network."