San Francisco may be the go-to place for all things technological; however, when it comes to internet connectivity, the city is surprisingly under-equipped. That is, until now. Google has donated $600,000 to replace the city's outdated connections with an extensive free Wi-Fi network in public areas and parks.
The money will be divided amongst 31 locations in the Bay area, with the search giant covering the cost of the equipment, installation, and maintenance. Ed Lee, the Mayor of San Francisco, explained, “We are behind. I call us the innovation capital of the world but we need to catch up. This is where the relationship with the private sector is so important to us.”
Interestingly, this is not the first time that a free Wi-Fi service has been proposed. Back in 2007, a similar venture was to be carried out by San Francisco officials in collaboration with Google and EarthLink. Unfortunately, the deal failed to materialize due to political intervention and a number of privacy concerns. The public also feared that the partnering tech companies were motivated by profit alone; a scenario that the Board of Supervisors desperately wanted to avoid.
Six years later, these worries have been laid to rest. Google has made similar donations in the past, earning themselves a favorable reputation. They have recently setup wireless networks across Boston and New York, and most notably, the company launched Google Fiber to Kansas City just a year ago. This lightning-fast network boasts speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, which is roughly 100 times faster than the standard internet services available to most US residents today.
Officially dubbed the “Free Wi-Fi in The Parks” program, the Google donation should provide enough capital to run the system for nearly two years. After this time has passed, it will be the city’s responsibility to fund and maintain the existing infrastructure.
The free Wi-Fi program is coming to the following locations: Alamo Square, Balboa Park, Bernal Heights Recreation Center, Boeddeker Park, Chinese Recreation Center, Civic Center Plaza, Corona Heights, Crocker Amazon Playground, Duboce Park, Eureka Valley Rec Center, Gene Friend Rec Center/Soma, Hamilton Rec Center, Huntington Park, Joseph Lee Recreation Center, Justin Herman Plaza, Margaret Hayward, Marina Green, Minnie & Lovie Ward Rec Center, Mission Dolores Park, Mission Rec Center, Palega Recreation Center, Portsmith Square, Richmond Recreation Center, St Mary's Rec Center, St Mary's Square, Sue Bierman Park, Sunnyside Playground, Sunset Playground, Tenderloin Children's Rec Center, Upper Noe Recreation Center, and Washington Square.