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GoogleNet conquers Mountain View

One lamp post at a time

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Google's first foray into providing blanket wireless internet coverage has proved victorious, with its home town of Mountain View giving the local company a five-year monopoly on providing Wi-Fi access.

Google will rent 400 street posts in Mountain View, California, for $12,600 a year, on which it will erect 802.11 hubs at a density of around 20 to 30 per square mile. The city wide network is expected to go live in June.

Local residents had raised privacy and health issues, but these were swept aside in a unanimous council vote last night.

"It's a pretty cool thing,'' Mayor Matt Neely told the San Jose Mercury news. Over a fifth of Google's five thousand employees are based in the municipality.

Meanwhile, San Francisco's muncipal Wi-Fi project "TechConnect" which has attracted over 20 bids including one from Google, is under coming under increasing scrutiny, however.

Some of the TechConnect bids remain entirely secret, and in others - for example, Google's bid - 90 per cent of the proposal is redacted.

Kimo Crossman, a Wi-Fi advocate who's been pressing the city for more details, points out that every municipality in the United States is engaging the public in the decision process except San Francisco.

It's a startling departure from the norm for large public infrastructure projects.

He described an August 31 meeting as "... so embarassingly disorganized - seems like they are just going through the motions for cover - that they probably already know about a backroom deal."

He noted that Mountain View's rubber stamping of Google's proposal included no details of a Service Level Agreements, no consideration of impact on other city businesses, large and small, and no details on how the city can cancel and under-performing bid.

Kimo's campaign to ensure San Francisco doesn't suffer the same fate is detailed on his weblog, Webnetic. ®

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