City council members in Mountain View, California – Google corporate headquarters and home to more than 1,000 Google employees – said YES to the company’s offer to provide wireless Internet service to the city. Google plans to install over 400 transmitters on street lamps throughout the city, earning Mountain View the distinction of being among the first cities to offer free WiFi Internet access.
While Mountain View is the first city to officially accept Google’s offer, talks between municipalities across the county and Internet content providers, like Google, Earthlink and others, are in the works.
The Wireless Philadelphia Executive Committee is an advisory/advocacy group created by Philadelphia Mayor John Street to recommend policy to administration as well as educate and communicate with local citizens and businesses. On October 3, 2005, Wireless Philadelphia entered into final negotiations with Earthlink “to develop and build the nation’s largest municipal WiFi Broadband network.”
Similarly, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom launched an initiative called “Tech Connect” which aims to provide citywide wireless Internet access. On November 8, 2005, Mayor Newsom issued a request for proposals (RFP) to create the network.
Some industry observers believe that down the road, cities will be expected to provide wireless Internet access the same way they do other utilities. Content providers such as Google and Earthlink want to offer cities free wireless networks in exchange for a virtual monopoly of coverage, so their motive isn’t entirely altruistic.
Others, however, suggest that the Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act, introduced in the Senate this past July, could actually prevent state and local governments from providing telecommunications services unless the area isn’t offered service from a private company. In a related article? Intel recently published its third annual survey of “unwired cities”? its Most Unwired Cities survey ranks the top U.S. cities for greatest wireless Internet access. This year’s top three cities for wireless access include Seattle, San Francisco and Austin.