Google Sponsors Free Wi-Fi in San Francisco Parks

Select parks -- sorry, Dolores -- to get free Internet by 2014.

By Chris Roberts
|  Wednesday, Jul 24, 2013  |  Updated 12:32 PM PDT
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By spring 2014, 31 San Francisco parks will get free Wi-Fi, some seven years after the idea was first dangled in San Franciscans' faces.

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Free Internet access via an open Wi-Fi network -- brought to you by Google -- is at last a real thing in San Francisco.

Years after a deal between Google and the city went south, the Silicon Valley giant is sponsoring an Internet free-for-all in San Francisco's green spaces, according to reports.

By spring 2014, At least 31 parks in San Francisco will be blanketed with free Internet access, paid for by $600,000 from Google given via politically-connected tech advocacy group sf.citi, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

The deal will be a boon for public users of smartphones and laptops on park benches as well as the city's Recreation and Park Department, which has to rely on dialup connections in some parks, the Chronicle reported.

It's not entirely clear why San Francisco has been such a "late adopter" of publicly-available free Internet access, despite its close proximity to Silicon Valley and the Google headquarters.

There was "resistance" years ago when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom tried to hash out a deal to give the entire city free Wi-Fi, according to Supervisor Mark Farrell, who "personally" made the current deal with a member of Google's "government relations team," who is a "friend" of the elected official, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's report.

The deal brings Wi-Fi to places like Alamo Square and Civic Center Plaza, the newspaper reported.

But there's some bad news for hipsters, bongo drummers and families on bicycles, however: Dolores Park and Golden Gate Park are not on the list.

When the green spaces go wired, they will be the precursor to a citywide Wi-Fi network to be unveiled after the spring 2014 park program, the Examiner reported. 

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