Google Offers $600,000 for Free Wi-fi in San Fran

Internet giant Google has offered a “no strings attached” deal to San Francisco’s parks authority to pay for the installation and two years’ upkeep of a public wi-fi network in the city.

Google’s Veronica Bell said the company hopes that the $600,000 (£390,000) offer to provide free wi-fi will be “a resource that the city and other local groups will be able to use in their efforts to bridge the digital divide and make their community stronger.” Parks supervisor Mark Farrell said on the citys website that the free wi-fi will be available at 31 parks, plazas and open spaces across San Francisco. Installation will begin in December 2013 and be completed by Spring 2014.

Google has never provided free wif-fi outside of the US but has previously funded projects in Mountain View, home of its HQ, along with areas of New York and Boston. Despite being a leading tech city, San Francisco is behind cities like London when it comes to offering free public wi-fi.

The large-scale project, where residents and visitors will no doubt have to give up some personal details in exchange for the service, could boost Googles efforts to offer contextually relevant, location-based advertising.

The company will not own or manage the network, instead, angel investor Ron Conway is coordinating the project through his not-for-profit SF.Citi.