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SF mayor girding for lawsuits over Wi-Fi plan

Mayor Gavin Newsom warns that vested interests will fight SF's TechConnect plan. Proposals to be reviewed within three weeks.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor on

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is expecting lawsuits to stop the city's Wi-Fi plansfrom opponents with deep pockets. There is a "very organized effort to stop this," Newsom said at a press conference Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

[He] described the opposition as disgraceful and said that he is bracing for a war of rhetoric and lobbying
Newsom expects San Francisco to be sued by opponents of the plan, which include some Internet service providers that fear that their subscription businesses will suffer in the face of a cheaper, or even free, alternative.

... "This is inevitable," Newsom said. "This is long overdue. This is a fundamental right."

The 45-day submission process is complete. The next step is for a committe to review the proposals. Google received a lot of attention for offering to provide service for free.

Newsom said that he is creating a committee of up to seven people who will review the Wi-Fi proposals. They will decide the next step in the next three weeks, he said.

Options include opening up a more formal round of bidding, or if none of the current offers is acceptable, starting the process over again. A company chosen as a winner would ultimately have to get the approval of various government agencies, including the Board of Supervisors, the mayor said.

Despite the fears of industry backlash, Comcast and SBC said they had no particular fear of TechConnect. Verizon, which fought Philadelphia's plan vociferously was not quoted, however.

"We look at it as one more competitor in a crowded field of competitors," said Andrew Johnson, a Comcast spokesman.


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