Davis Freeberg files this funny report about attending a public meeting in which Google and EarthLink hear from ordinary citizens and the tin-foil hat brigade in San Francisco: It's explicable that bureaucracy introduces delays, but uninformed crazy people may also extend the time-to-deployment for networks. I was warned by some SFer's months ago that despite predictions of smooth sailing for a muni-Wi-Fi network getting off the ground--and fast--that the political situation in San Francisco requires that the nuttiest have as much equity in the process as the sanest. Frisco! (They hate that name.)
Freeberg is most concerned about losing the free part of the Google/EarthLink deal, in which Google pays EarthLink in order to deliver free 300 Kbps service. EarthLink will wholesale and resell 1 Mbps access at what is predicted to be about $20 at retail. Google said they'll require accounts, which could be disposable but will still be mandatory, to use their free service.
In comments on Freeberg's post, legendary freedom fighter John Gilmore notes that the network won't be free to SF, which is providing valuable real-estate siting for antennas and other equipment. Gilmore is concerned that Google/EarthLink will be allowed to track users across the network with a high degree of granularity and "monopolize" the Wi-Fi airwaves. Thomas Hawk, who writes a blog that's always a good read, says privacy concerns are overblown given what's being provided in exchange for logging in.