San Francisco, EarthLink reach deal for citywide
By Tamara Barak, Bay City News Service
January 6, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
announced that a deal reached yesterday between the city and EarthLink
could make San Francisco the first major city in the country to
offer free universal wireless Internet access.
The agreement will be a critical step in bridging the "digital
divide" that separates low income communities from the benefits
of technology, the mayor said in a statement.
"Ubiquitous WiFi will change how residents access education,
social services and economic opportunities. This will make city
government more effective and accountable to the people we serve,"
The agreement comes after nearly a year of negotiations. The
deal will now go to the city's Board of Supervisors for approval.
"It is my hope that the city's legislative branch will join
me in leveraging the power of the Internet to enhance the lives
of our citizens," Newsom said.
By partnering with the private sector, the city can provide WiFi
at no cost to taxpayers, according to the mayor's office.
While many cities have WiFi "hot spots," the agreement
with EarthLink promises citywide connectivity. The terms of the
deal protect the privacy and security of all users and provides
consumer choice through open access, the mayor's office reported.
The agreement for a citywide wireless network "catapults
San Francisco into a leadership position in wireless technology,"
EarthLink President Donald Berryman said in a statement.
"The network ensures universal, affordable wireless broadband
access for all San Franciscans, especially low income and disadvantaged
residents; and through the mayor's digital divide program, children
and students will have the digital tools to ensure that they have
access to everything that the Internet has to offer the growing
minds of the city's promising future," Berryman said.
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