02:26 PM

As San Francisco ponders its Public Internet, FON gives away 10,000 routers

Public Internet San Francisco holds the first of a series of public hearings at City Hall on the municipal Wi-Fi Google/Earthlink Project: Wednesday Feb 7 at 3pm City Hall, Board Chamber, room 250, Budget and Finance Committee.

First District Supervisor Jake McGoldrick has sponsored a resolution on the project.

San Francisco Budget Analyst report:

"Fiscal Feasibility Analysis of a Municipally-Owned Citywide Wireless Broadband Network."

San Francisco Examiner has an editorial by on the SF Wi-Fi deal by Supervisor McGoldrick saying it should not be rushed through.

S.F. should not rush free Wi-Fi deal

When The City selects one company to take over our public assets to provide service, the only guarantee is that the provider will dictate the quality and cost of service. The consumers lose. Government loses its governance. And taxpayers are subsidizing EarthLink/Google’s businesses by paying for its infrastructure while being charged for their services. EarthLink/Google should not reap the benefits of the public’s use without giving much in return.

. . .

Another way to offer public Internet access is through FON, a company that sells routers that have a public and private WiFi channels. Users share their WiFi connection with anybody within range while keeping a secure private connection.

To celebrate its one year birthday FON is giving away 10,000 WiFi routers for free in the US. FON is backed by Google, Skype, Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures and has more than 250,000 users in 140 countries.

Please see SVW:

The battle for the last-mile heats up as GOOG, Skype and VCs fund startup FON

. . .

Randall Stross a professor of business at San Jose State University wrote an interesting article in the New York Times about WiFi in municipal applications. Using street lamps to perch WiFi transmitters can cost $75,000 to $125,000 per square mile.

An alternative comes from Meraki Networks, in Mountain View, CA:

...rather than starting from outside the house and trying to send signals in, Meraki starts from the inside and sends signals out, to the neighbors.

Some of those neighbors will also have Meraki boxes that serve as repeaters, relaying the signal still farther to more neighbors. The company equips its boxes with software that maintains a “mesh network,” which dynamically reroutes signals as boxes are added or unplugged, and as environmental conditions that affect network performance fluctuate moment to moment.

SF WiFi: NY Times - Wifi without towers

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 From October 5, 2005:

Silicon Valley Watcher proposes free WiFi solution for most of San Francisco. . . and it could be done this afternoon!

Silicon Valley Watcher proposes free WiFi solution for most of San Francisco
Free Wi-Fi.jpg. . . and it could be done this afternoon! We just need to persuade people in SF with a wireless router to let it all hang out.