More free Wi-Fi for SF

Along with Google, MetroFi is offering free Wi-Fi to San Francisco, along with an upgrade path.

Along with Google, MetroFi is offering free Wi-Fi to San Francisco, along with an upgrade path, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Google made headlines late last month when it threw its name into the ring, saying it would build a San Francisco wireless network for free for the city and provide 300-Kbps service at no charge to users. The company was expected to recoup its costs through advertising sales and premium service with higher speeds.

In its response, MetroFi said it would provide free service at 1 Mbps at no cost to the city. Premium service with more security and customer service and no advertising would be available for about $20 a month.

"It's like getting a free (basic) version of software and then when you get tired of the features, we believe you'll pull out your credit card and purchase the full version," said Chuck Haas, chief executive officer of MetroFi.

 City officials are ecstatic at the quality of proposals.

"I am very heartened and excited because companies have proposed solutions that are based on some type of analysis and work they've done that suggests there is a business model (for municipal Wi-Fi) that makes sense," Chris Vein, director of San Francisco's department of telecommunications and services, told The Chronicle last week.

There are grass  roots proposals, too.

Some of the more unconventional proposals included one by nextWLAN that wants to deploy a network of wireless nodes that would be connected to existing DSL or cable lines. If enough people sign up, the city can create a network using the nodes to expand residential coverage for about $10 a month per household.

In another proposal, SFLAN, a community wireless network in San Francisco, suggests the city erect wireless access points on rooftops and make the service available for free.