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Coalition calls on San Francisco
to reject Google/Earthlink deal

From Public Net San Francisco

January 25, 2007

Today, Public Net San Francisco, a coalition of various community groups and Internet professionals, insisted that the City of San Francisco cancel the pending Google/Earthlink monopoly WiFi deal, and instead use the City’s existing high speed fiber optic network as the backbone to build a truly modern, fast, and free, public communications system.

Groups releasing the statement included the San Francisco People’s Organization (SFPO), Our City, the community wireless network SFLan, and Internet services provider United Layer.

Their statement follows closely on the heels of a report just released by the San Francisco Budget Analyst’s Office, which makes clear that the Google/Earthlink deal will result in an inferior monopoly franchise that will give San Franciscans much slower access than nearly all other cities providing municipal Internet, and more importantly, will fail to serve the intended core goal of the project – to make certain that all San Franciscans, regardless of their income, get free fast and equal access to the Internet.

The report states that the Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) acted far too hastily in adopting the monopoly deal, without seeking sufficient input from the public, and notably failing to include possibilities for using over 35 miles of city owned fiber optic cable to build a much more robust system, that could be owned by the public, and could provide all San Franciscans with free Internet service at least ten times faster access speeds than the Google/Earthlink plan. The City and its residents should not give away its ability to self-determine its destiny. The people deserve a real choice.

Said Bruce Wolfe of the San Francisco People’s Organization, “I don’t get it. DTIS spent over a year coming up with this plan and it doesn’t even serve its primary goal of making sure that everybody in San Francisco, regardless of income, gets free and equal Internet access. Smooth video, and clear phone calls, are becoming basic uses of the Internet. This deal provides neither to nonpaying users, leaving them in the digital dust.”

Eric Brooks with the local grassroots organization Our City stated, “After nearly a century of San Franciscans suffering rip-offs and incredibly bad service under the monopoly control of our public utilities by corporations like PG&E, Comcast, and AT&T, it amazes me that DTIS can stand there with a straight face and try to convince us that we should let a multinational corporate partnership own and control our new public communications system.”

Tim Pozar with United Layer, the Internet services provider that installed a free Internet system for users in San Francisco’s Alice Griffith housing project, stated, “The Budget Analyst’s report shows clearly what we have been saying to the City for over a year now. If we go for municipal ownership of a system that makes use of all the City’s public assets, including the high speed ring of fiber optic cable lying only half used right under our feet, we can get a vastly superior, and 10 to 100 times faster system, than the clunker being offered to us by Earthlink and Google.”

Ralf Muehlen, who already provides free Internet access to hundreds of San Franciscans through the nonprofit community wireless network SFLan concluded, “The big problem with the Earthlink system is that it uses a slow, wireless-only backbone that cannot accommodate even today's needs let alone the needs of the next 16 years. 300 kilobits per second is so 1997; it'll be utterly ridiculous in 2023, which is how long Earthlink's monopoly will last. Earthlink has little incentive to upgrade, and their non-fiber backbone has no spare capacity. A hybrid network, that uses both wireless and existing fiber can support much higher speeds and is more robust. We already paid for the City's fiber with our taxes, we should now put it to good use.”

Endorsing Organizations

San Francisco People’s Organization - 2940 16th St. #314, SF, CA 94103.
Press Contact: Bruce Wolfe, brucewolfe@sfpeople.org, Skype: brucew-sf

Our City - 1028-A Howard St., SF, CA 94103.
Press Contact: Eric Brooks, info@our-city.org

United Layer - 200 Paul Ave. #110, SF, CA 94124.
Contact: Tim Pozar, pozar@barwn.org

SFLan - 116 Sheridan Ave., SF, CA 94129.
Contact: Ralf Muehlen, sflan+press@muehlen.com




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