February 22, 2006 1:43 PM PST

EarthLink, Google team in S.F. Wi-Fi bid

EarthLink has teamed up with Google on a bid to offer free wireless Internet access throughout the city of San Francisco and premium service for a fee, a Google spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The Google-EarthLink bid was among six presented to the city by Tuesday, the bidding deadline, according to a statement from the office of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. A review panel is expected to make recommendations by early April, the statement said.

The other proposals were submitted by Communication Bridge Global, MetroFi, NextWLAN, Razortooth Communications (dba RedTAP) and SF Metro Connect (a joint venture of community-computing nonprofit SeaKay and Cisco Systems and IBM).

"In this proposal, Google will provide a free Wi-Fi service citywide and EarthLink will serve as the premium service provider," Google said in a statement. "We have submitted this proposal because at Google we're focused on creating new technologies that make it easier for people to quickly access the world's information. It is also a way for Google to support the local community. We believe this proposal and our combined technological expertise will benefit the residents of San Francisco by offering a choice in connectivity and service providers."

"I think both companies benefit from this partnership in terms of increasing their odds to win," Bill Tolpegin, vice president of development and planning at EarthLink Municipal Networks, said in an interview.

Under the plan, Google would manage the free Wi-Fi service, which will run at 300 kilobits per second, while EarthLink would offer a 1-megabit-per-second service with customer support for $20 a month or less, he said. Cable companies, telephone companies and local Internet Service Providers are expected to be charged $9 to $12 a month wholesale charges to use the Wi-Fi network for reselling their own wireless service, he said.

Google and EarthLink would jointly deploy and manage the network, but Tolpegin declined to say how much the companies are prepared to invest. EarthLink spent $10 million to $15 million to build a Wi-Fi network in Philadelphia that covers 135 square miles, he said, adding that the San Francisco network would cover 47 square miles.

Google is providing Wi-Fi access to Mountain View, Calif., and is testing service in spots in San Francisco. Meanwhile, in addition to the contract EarthLink has to set up a Wi-Fi network in Philadelphia, the company won a contract for Anaheim, Calif., is a finalist in Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., Brookline, Mass., and Arlington, Va., and is in discussions with five to 10 other cities, Tolpegin said. "We are considering additional opportunities on muni Wi-Fi" with Google.

Google needed to team up with an ISP for a proper bid, according to a posting on the Muniwireless.com blog.

"I am not surprised by this move since Google is not an ISP and needs to team up with a service provider to build and run the network," the posting said. "EarthLink, on the other hand, has been a traditional dial-up provider that is now muscling into the broadband market traditionally held by incumbent operators and cable companies."

Last summer Newsom initiated the San Francisco Tech Connect project, whose mandate is to bring affordable broadband Internet access to San Francisco's nearly 750,000 residents.

See more CNET content tagged:
EarthLink Inc., proposal, Wi-Fi network, San Francisco, Philadelphia

3 comments

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But Why?
Can someone tell me what's google trying to get out of this?

Is it just browsing behavior or a marketing idea to spread usage of its services?
Posted by haiashwin (4 comments )
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CALIFORNIA REMOVES REGULATORY BARRIERS TO BPL
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://broadbandoverpowerlines.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://broadbandoverpowerlines.blogspot.com/</a>

UPLC: CALIFORNIA REMOVES REGULATORY BARRIERS TO BPL

The California Public Utilities Commission has issued an Opinion Implementing Policy on Broadband over Power Lines which, among other things, gives California utilities the option of providing BPL through an unregulated affiliate, and generally exempts BPL transactions from requiring prior approval by the PUC. The decision is remarkable for its regulatory restraint and progressive policymaking, recognizing repeatedly that overregulation could discourage the deployment of BPL in California altogether. The PUC was open to the possibility that a regulated utility could offer BPL itself, although it would require approval from the PUC. The PUC clarified that it would apply rules for telecom, rather than energy affiliates, in reviewing BPL transactions. Meanwhile, the PUC established policies that protect ratepayers and align shareholder risks and rewards by requiring shareholders to pay for the deployment and by limiting ratepayers investment only to R&#38;D or operational costs associated with utility applications.

To provide incentives for shareholders to deploy BPL, the PUC authorized negotiated access fees and established two different revenue sharing arrangements with ratepayers. While the PUC decided to require utilities to provide nondiscriminatory access to poles and rights-of-way; it did not require mandatory access. As for rates for BPL attachments, the PUC approved a cost-based methodology proposed by SDG&#38;E. The main issue before the PUC was an exemption from review and approval of BPL transactions; and not only did the PUC grant the exemption, it also refused to impose additional conditions on BPL transactions, such as environmental review, and it refused to require PUC approval of BPL contracts. For more information on the California BPL Opinion, contact the UPLC Legal/Regulatory Department.
Posted by 200mbpsBPL (102 comments )
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That's only half the battle
Now if they can just repeal some of the laws of physics this BPL thing might finally take off.
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
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