Add San Francisco to the list of cities offering free Wi-Fi to parts of the city.
Mayor Edwin Lee on Monday announced the launch of a free municipal wireless Internet access service along Market Street — the city’s busiest and most economically diverse corridor.
Starting in the Castro neighborhood and ending at The Embarcadero along the entire Market Street corridor, Wi-Fi access will be accessible to everyone with a smartphone, laptop or any Wi-Fi-enabled mobile device.
“Nearly a quarter-million people walk down Market Street every day, and now they will be able to connect to the Internet through our free public Wi-Fi,” Lee said. “Providing Wi-Fi on our city’s main busy thoroughfare is a big first step towards a larger vision of connectivity for our city as a whole, bridging the digital divide and ensuring that our diverse communities have access to innovation.”
The Department of Technology developed the advertisement-free wireless Internet access, which is made possible by a public-private partnership from Bay Area-based Ruckus Wireless that donated the hardware.
Layer42 Networks, a provider of connectivity and data center hosting solutions, also contributed one gigabit of Internet access service to allow the Market Street network to reach the public Internet. DT staff and selected vendors designed and implemented the uniquely municipal-owned service.
“The speed we provide on upload and download as well as the friendly user experience with no ads and no strings attached reflects the spirit of San Franciscans,” said DT Director and Chief Information Officer Marc Touitou. “Whether it’s accessing a bus schedule or finding a bargain at a local store, this network will do wonders for improving the quality of life for our residents while also accommodating our visitors who contribute to our local economy.”
San Francisco currently has 130 miles of fiber optic cable beneath its streets. This fiber network provides high-speed Internet to many of the city’s municipal buildings, neighborhood firehouses, police stations, recreational facilities, science facilities such as The Exploratorium and the Academy of Sciences and educational institutions including UCSF, San Francisco State University and San Francisco City College.
Lee has embraced Federal Communications Commission Chairman Genachowski’s “gigabit city” challenge and at the 81st Annual Meeting of the US Conference of Mayors, Lee introduced a resolution to support increased access to broadband and spectrum as essential steps to continually encourage innovation, drive economic growth, and remain competitive in the 21st-century global economy.
Lee today also announced the city has completed an overhaul of the Wi-Fi network on Treasure Island, which was initially built in 2008.
The overhaul has resulted in improved connections and faster and more robust service for more than 2,500 residents and small businesses on Treasure Island.
In July, Lee and Supervisor Mark Farrell in partnership with Google announced plans to install free Wi-Fi for the general public at 31 parks, plazas and open spaces across San Francisco, including at Civic Center Plaza and Union Square.
The installation of free wireless Internet service in city parks will begin in spring 2014, and all 31 sites are expected to be fully completed and ready for use by San Francisco’s residents and visitors by summer 2014.