SF jumps into pool of candidates for Google network 

The City is jumping into the mix to be a part of the Google fiber-optic network despite past political wrangling that slowed a deal with the Internet search engine giant.

Mayors and cities throughout the nation are courting Google in hopes that the Mountain View-based company will select them for their testing ground for such a network. In one instance, the mayor of Duluth, Minn., jumped into the freezing Lake Superior.

San Francisco on Tuesday joined the race, with the Board of Supervisors unanimously approving a resolution, introduced by board President David Chiu with the support of Mayor Gavin Newsom, which is said to signal The City’s willingness to accept a Google proposal if one should come.

A previous plan to blanket San Francisco with a free wireless Internet service provided by Earthlink and Google was caught up in political wrangling. Ultimately, Earthlink backed out in 2007 as it experienced financial trouble.

“We are extremely enthusiastic about the initiative,” Tony Winnicker, Newsom’s spokesman, said Tuesday. “The reason we worked with President Chiu on the resolution is so that we could move forward with an application to Google with the demonstrated support of the mayor and the Board of Supervisors.”

The Department of Technology — now with the blessing of the Board of Supervisors — is expected to respond Friday to Google’s request for information. That’s the deadline to apply.

“Today’s vote expresses clearly that San Francisco is committed to bringing broadband access to all residents while remaining faithful to adopted city principles about public access and competition,” Chiu said.

On Feb. 10, Google announced that it was looking to “find the right community partners” to build and test an ultra-high-speed broadband network in the U.S.

“The City is well positioned to respond to the [request for information] due to the extensive work that [the Department of Technology] has done in assessing the feasibility of a fiber-to-the-home network in The City,” a statement from the Mayor’s Office said. “DT has developed a wealth of information on costs, technical architecture and market demand that can be used to support the response to the RFI.”

In 2007, it was estimated it would take The City 15 years to build a fiber-to-the-premises network and cost more than a half-billion dollars.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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