Google, EarthLink Bid on SF Wi-Fi

Google Inc. and EarthLink have submitted a joint proposal to provide city-wide Wi-Fi in San Francisco.

Their bid includes free access with 300kbps downstream and online advertising, along with a 1mbps ad-free premium service offered for $20 per month.

The implementation will be a public-private partnership, and San Francisco will capitalize on the online advertising revenue and fees for premium services. The city put out a formal request for proposals in late December, requiring companies to include free access and an affordable 1mbps premium service. It has so far received six bids, including ones from a Cisco Systems Inc./IBM/SeaKay team-up, and from MetroFi, which already runs municipal Wi-Fi in Cupertino and Sunnyvale, Calif.

EarthLink and Google also bring a track record to the bidding war: EarthLink has won contracts in Philadelphia and Anaheim, Calif. for similar networks, while Google is already sponsoring free Wi-Fi in Union Square downtown.

Google Inc.

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