SF WiFi: We’re Free

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Free wireless Internet may be available to all San Francisco residents by the end of the year, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

San Francisco-based Meraki Networks will install free wireless Internet throughout the city, starting with Valencia Garden Complex, a 260-unit residence located at 360 Valencia St. where Wednesday’s announcement was made.

Actually, some 100,000 San Francisco residents, including those in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and the Mission District, have already been using Meraki’s network, called Free the Net, according to Chief Executive Officer Sanjit Biswas.

“The idea is to be in every neighborhood by the end of the year,” Biswas said.

The city plans to introduce the wireless Internet to affordable housing developments first. The Mission Housing Development Corp is providing low-income housing sites with free wireless Internet throughout the building, according to the housing development’s Chief Executive Officer Larry Del Carlo. Residents may also use a computer lab and service department to receive help writing a resume and seeking jobs within the community, according to Martin Ugarte of the Mission Housing Development Corp.

“We’re starting with low-income housing to make sure they aren’t left out,” Del Carlo said.

Mayor Newsom also announced today the launch of the The TechConnect PC Purchase Program for Working Families. The program, sponsored by Dell, Intel and Patelco Credit Union, offers eligible low-income working families the opportunity to buy a new discounted Dell computer for a low monthly cost with a loan from Patelco Credit Union.

The shared WiFi system comes at no cost to San Francisco residents because Meraki is picking up the tab for backhaul and the devices. Meraki devices include a hotspot that connects directly to a DSL line, and a repeater, that extends the coverage through mesh networking.

Every point in the network communicates with each access point and reports information back to a central server which can optimize speed and performance throughout the network — or deliver advertising. See: Meraki and San Francisco Partner for WiFi.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, June 12th, 2008 at 10:35 am .