San Fran's Newsom takes WiFi to the voters

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is rallying public support for his long-awaited muni-WiFi project through a measure that will appear on the election ballot in November. The mayor and president of the city's Board of Supervisors, Aaron Peskin, together put forward a measure to make official the city's policy to deploy a free muni-WiFi network via a public-private partnership that includes privacy protection. Voter approval isn't necessary for the network to be constructed, but since the plan has been derailed and opposed by other city leaders, it would give Newsom some backing.

Newsom's administration has an agreement with EarthLink and Google to build and operate the network, but EarthLink recently said it was re-evaluating its muni-WiFi strategy. The ISP has asked the city's board of supervisors to delay a vote until at least September. EarthLink CEO Roll Huff recently said that his company's muni-WiFi strategy isn't working. To make sure EarthLink gets a return on its investment, he wants "municipal government to step up and become a meaningful anchor tenant on completion of a build." We'll likely see EarthLink pull out of this.

For more about the November ballot initiative:
- read this article from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)