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Google bids to blanket SF with free Wi-Fi

Responding to San Francisco's request for bids to cover the hilly city in Wi-Fi, Google submitted a proposal to do the job for free.
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Written by ZDNet UK on

Responding to San Francisco's request for bids to cover the hilly city in Wi-Fi, Google submitted a proposal to do the job for free.

"Unwiring San Francisco is a way for Google to support our local Bay Area community," a company spokesman said. "It is also an opportunity to make San Francisco a test-ground for new location-based applications and services that enable people to find relevant information exactly when and where they need it."

Some folks have speculated that Google wants to lock in ad clicks in exchange for the free service. Glenn Fleischman has this perspective:

If Google can add a few million incremental clicks a year, it’s possible that the network will be entirely paid out of ads. But that’s not what they’re aiming for—they don’t really need incremental users to drive delivering more ads and clicks. They’re aiming to move more advertising dollars out of the devastated newspaper business in the city and suck more life from telephone book display advertising. National advertising in the U.S. comprised $45 billion the first half of 2005; local advertising, $26 billion.

Because Google will run the network, they can deliver ads targeted to the city block for folks using their Wi-Fi network without knowing anything about the individual consumer, as it will be entirely based on the Wi-Fi network not consumer characteristics. I imagine Google views this as a massive experiment and money well spent.

 

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