San Francisco expands free public Wi-Fi access

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ByJonathan Bloom KGO logo
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Google provides free Wi-Fi for SF public areas
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San Francisco is a step closer to its dream of free Wi-Fi everywhere thanks to a partnership with Google.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is a step closer to its dream of free Wi-Fi everywhere thanks to a partnership with Google.

Supervisor Mark Farrell has been talking to Google about this for two years.

"Google is proud to provide free Wi-Fi in San Francisco, a city where thousands of Googlers live and work," Google Public Policy Manager Rebecca Prozan.

It's true. The Internet giant has an office that includes the exclusive Google Glass Base Camp and many more employees who ride big buses from San Francisco down to Google's main campus in Mountain View.

Both have become symbols of the tech elite, but this time Google is doing something for everyone.

"One of the things that is most special about this announcement today is that it's here. It's in a part of town that is typically under-served," San Francisco Recreation and Parks Manager Phil Ginsburg said.

The Tenderloin Recreational Center is one out of 32 parks, plazas and community centers across the city where free San Francisco Wi-Fi is now live, thanks to Google's $600,000 grant.

Supervisor Jane Kim said in a neighborhood where a lot of people can't get online at home, it's a critical link to job applications, homework and connecting with family.

In fact, it's one reason she's fought to bring companies like Twitter to the neighborhood.

"Our residents said, 'Yes, we want the tech companies to come, and we hope that they'll partner with us to bring Wi-Fi so we can access the Internet," Kim said.

This free Wi-Fi represents a sizable chunk of a puzzle the city's been trying to solve since the latest administration, but for Mayor Ed Lee, it wasn't just about getting the Wi-Fi but about getting Wi-Fi on the right terms.

"You log on, you're anonymous. Nobody's collecting date, there's no strigns on it. I like that," Lee said.

No username or password is required. The mayor says it's truly open and truly private.

He hopes it's only the beginning of a free network that could one day cover the whole city.

As San Francisco joins the likes of Mountain View, Chicago and New York, where Google has already sponsored Wi-Fi in some places, many are excited to see what's next.

The list of the 32 parks, plazas and open spaces with free Wi-Fi can be found on Supervisor Mark Farrell's Board of Supervisor's website, and as follows:

1. Alamo Square

2. Balboa Park

3. Bernal Heights Recreation Center

4. Boeddeker Park**

5. Chinese Recreation Center

6. Civic Center Plaza

7. Corona Heights

8. Crocker Amazon Playground

9. Duboce Park

10. Eureka Valley Rec Center

11. Gene Friend Rec Center/SoMa

12. Hamilton Rec Center

13. Huntington Park

14. Joseph Lee Recreation Center

15. Justin Herman Plaza

16. Margaret Hayward

17. Marina Green

18. Minnie & Lovie Ward Rec Center

19. Mission Dolores Park**

20. Mission Rec Center

21. Palega Recreation Center

22. Portsmouth Square

23. Richmond Recreation Center

24. St Mary's Playground

25. St Mary's Square

26. Sue Bierman Park

27. Sunnyside Playground

28. Sunset Playground

29. Tenderloin Children's Rec Center

30. Union Square

31. Upper Noe Recreation Center

32. Washington Square

** Mission Dolores Park and Boeddeker Park are currently under construction, Wi-Fi installation at these locations will resume once construction is complete.