Google Inc. has proposed to blanket San Francisco with free wireless Internet access, placing a marquee name behind Mayor Gavin Newsom’s effort to get all residents online whether they are at home, in a park or in a cafe.
The offer by the Mountain View search engine was one of many competing bids received by the city before its deadline Friday. Officials will now review the submissions and make a decision about which, if any, of the candidates get the green light for so-called Wi-Fi service. . . .
The proposal furthers existing speculation that Google intends to create a free national Wi-Fi network. If so, it could pose a serious challenge to existing Internet service providers, such as SBC-Yahoo, Earthlink, Comcast and America Online, which charge subscriptions for wire connections.
I’m sure somewhere an economist is furrowing his brow over this – but my initial reaction is “ooooooooooh.” Frankly, I’d even pay for access if I could combine it with other services I already receive. Like if my house connection, cell phone, and wifi hotspot access all cost under $50 month, I’d be totally down with it. Of course, if I could get the milk for free . . . . One wonders, though, where it all stops? You can see the jockying, right? Old school telecom types fighting tooth and nail in government to prevent some upstart kids from giving away for free what they’ve happily provided for a fee. How can Google do it?
The article ends with a note on caution about how the government intervenes in this market. The potentially endless legal questions could keep many attorneys employed for a looong time. In the meantime, however, I’ll just keep dreaming of a time when me and my laptop can roam the city limited only by the length of my power cord and the stamina of my battery.