San Francisco's embattled Wi-Fi plans continue their stall: The head of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce chides the board of supervisors, in whose hands the future of the EarthLink-awarded network lie, for not simply accepting the deal as it stands. The board's hearing yesterday made it clear that some supervisors still haven't been assuaged. It puts Mayor Gavin Newsom in the position of arguing that his city isn't competent enough to run its own Wi-Fi network, which may be true, but it's an awkward pose for a chief executive to take. The supervisors didn't like that the "free" flavor of network that Google will offer likely requires a "$50 to $100" bridge--which really costs more like $150; the article is being conservative based on current equipment out in the market. Privacy issues are also still in the air.
The clock is ticking on the contract: the agreement stated that the board of supervisors and public utility commissions had to offer their approvals within 180 days of execution; the mayor's office executed the contract in early January, but it requires these additional approvals to go forward. That six-month period would end around the July meeting that the supervisors say they'll take up the issue again. After that, EarthLink or the city can walk away from the January contract, although neither party has indicated that they would do so.
Meanwhile, Minneapolis's first couple tests are up and the local tech report isn't impressed: Steve Alexander went out to kick the tires on US Internet's network. He tried 25 locations where he should have been able to gain access as of last week, and could only connect at four, finding a signal too weak at five and no signal at 16 other places. The provider admitted to him that they were behind. They have until June 6 to have five zones up and running; they only have 17 of 60 access points installed so far. The city apparently has no stick if that date isn't met; the reporter couldn't reach officials for their side of that statement.