Google offers to fund free wireless Internet hotspots

Google's latest scheme? Spending $600,000 on free Wi-Fi public services.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Chicago techstop

The lucky residents of San Francisco may soon enjoy Google-supplied free Wi-Fi -- if city officials allow the plans to go ahead.

The tech giant has offered to pay up to $600,000 in order to set up free wireless Internet hotspots in 31 public spaces in San Francisco, as reported by Reuters. However, city officials have stated that annual maintenance costs have to be scrutinized before approving the plans.

San Francisco supervisor Mark Farrell, who is working with Google to press forward with the service, said that the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation would install and maintain the network in conjunction with the San Francisco Department of Technology. Google's donation will be able to support the first two years' of maintainence. However, Google will not own or manage the service.

Farrell said:

"By providing free Wi-Fi in almost every corner of the city, we can further open up the doors of education, innovation, and inclusivity to every resident and visitor who takes advantage of our world-class parks, plazas, and open spaces."

Google's headquarter is stationed at Mountain View, Calif., and so residents there already enjoy free wireless Internet access. In addition, a number of cities that house Google data centers can also connect to the free service. Thousands of San Francisco residents work for Google, who commute to the company from 30 miles away.

In a statement, Google executive Veronica Bell said the company hopes the deal would become "a resource that the city and other local groups will be able to use in their efforts to bridge the digital divide and make their community stronger." 

Areas included in the plans are Mission Dolores Park, Alamo Square and Washington Square in North Beach.

The deal would need to be approved by the San Francisco planning department before going ahead. Farrell believes that the free Wi-Fi service could be operational by spring next year.

Recently, according to the tech giant's latest earnings report, Google managed to break an "Internet record" by accounting for nearly a quarter of all Internet traffic in North America.

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