Technology

Google, EarthLink Reel In S.F. Wi-Fi Project

4/07/2006 5:38 AM Eastern

The tandem of EarthLink Inc. and Google Inc. (www.google.com) has landed a major deal to set up and run a Wi-Fi network for the city of San Francisco.

For EarthLink, the contract award adds to its growing empire of municipal wireless systems, which now includes Philadelphia and Anaheim and Milpitas, Calif.

Although it is the junior partner in the venture, Google gains its first entry as a network-service provider.

The final agreement must now be negotiated, but the plan submitted to the San Francisco TechConnect Committee calls for EarthLink and Google to spend $10 million to build the Wi-Fi network using gear provided by Tropos Networks and Motorola Inc. The network will cover 46.7 square miles and consist of some 1,500 Wi-Fi base stations attached to utility poles and buildings.

From there, San Franciscans will have two choices for service -- either a free service offered by Google with throughput speeds approaching 300 kilobits per second downstream, or a $20 monthly subscription service EarthLink will offer with downstream and upstream throughputs approaching 1 megabit per second.

"We are thrilled that the San Francisco TechConnect Committee has selected the EarthLink proposal, and we look forward to taking the next step to negotiate a contract to build a municipal wireless broadband network,” said Donald Berryman, EarthLink executive vice president and president of the Internet-service provider’s municipal networks unit, in an official blog posted on the company’s Web site (www.earthlink.net).

“San Francisco is one of the most progressive cities in the world, and our combined offerings with Google, Motorola and Tropos Networks will stretch the possibilities of what a mobile network can do for residents, businesses, municipal government and visitors,” he added. “We look forward to getting started in building a solution that will bring the incredible possibilities to reality.”

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