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Google, EarthLink win wireless bid

GOOGLE and EarthLink have won a bid to provide free wireless internet access in San Francisco, a move that may boost use of Google's products and spark fresh competition for Comcast and AT&T.

San Francisco
Golden opportunity: Residents of San Francisco are to get free wireless broadband after a successful bid by Google and Earthlink
Google and EarthLink are betting there's demand for wireless internet access from city residents beyond existing offerings from AT&T and Comcast.

The city will start negotiations with Google and EarthLink on the project, says Chris Vein, director of San Francisco's telecom and technology department.

Under the proposal, Google will provide free connections and EarthLink will offer a higher- speed service for about $US20 ($28) a month.

EarthLink is seeking to add revenue streams, while Google wants to boost web use so it can show ads to more consumers.

"The review panel rated all six proposals and found that the EarthLink proposal in total met the needs of the city better thanthe others," Vein says.

Google and EarthLink beat proposals from companies including start-up MetroFi and a group that includes IBM and Cisco Systems.

Building the network will take six to 10 months, Google and Earthlink's proposal says.

EarthLink will be responsible for building the network with help from Google.

Google's free service will offer speeds of 300kbps, about five times the speed of most dial-up internet services.

EarthLink will offer the faster paid connection, at one megabit a second, as an alternative to services from Comcast and AT&T that use phone and cable television lines.

Comcast, the world's largest cable-television provider, charges about $US43 a month for internet access, with a promotional price of $US25 a month for the first three months, according to the company's website.

AT&T, the largest US telephone carrier, offers DSL access from about $US13 a month.

It requires users to have a phone line.

Comcast spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick and AT&T spokesman Larry Solomon didn't immediately return calls from The Australian.

"We are thrilled that the City of San Francisco has accepted our joint bid," Google spokeswoman Megan Quinn says.

EarthLink will use equipment from Motorola and Tropos Networks, a privately held company in Sunnyvale, California.

As part of the agreement, EarthLink will get access to city buildings, towers and street-lamp poles to fit networking gear.

The city won't provide any funds to build or maintain the network.

Costs for building the network weren't disclosed.

The companies say they will also provide discounted internet access to city employees.

Bids were also submitted by Communication Bridge Global, NextWLAN, and Razortooth Communications, according the San Francisco city website.

Bloomberg

The Australian

Google, EarthLink win wireless bid - Monday, April 10, 2006 -

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