Google bids to help San Francisco go wireless

Google ended months of speculation late Friday by submitting a proposal to offer a free wireless Internet service to San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO--Google ended months of speculation late Friday afternoon by submitting a proposal to offer a free wireless Internet service to the city of San Francisco.

The proposal, which is one of a range of proposals being submitted both by large communications firms and small start-ups, is in response to a TechConnect program proposed by the city's mayor, Gavin Newsom, this year. Newsom has positioned the program as a way to offer universal and affordable broadband Internet access to the city's residents and businesses.

In recent months, as an Internet service provider has reached a fevered pitch. However, the company said Friday that it did not yet have plans to roll out free nationwide Internet services.

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"Offering a free service like this is a great way to support the Bay Area," said Chris Sacca, a new-business development executive at Google. "We don't have any plans outside of the Bay Area."

He said the company expected to compete with a number of providers for the right to offer the new city service.

The service will take Google into a new technology arena beyond its rapidly growing Internet services. The Google proposal calls for deploying a wireless network based on the 802.11b and g standards and then upgrading to the coming 802.11n standard.

The company said its service would be an "open" one and added that it had proposed wholesaling wireless bandwidth to third parties that might be interested in selling premium services.

A spokesman for SBC Communications, the local phone company, said the company was also planning to submit a proposal.

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