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No Thanks to Google or Earthlink, SF May Still Get Free Wi-Fi


Boldly going where bigger
feet have gone before

Some companies work tirelessly in hopes that, one day, San Francisco residents will reap the bounty of free wireless internet.

Hoping to succeed in the steps of Earthlink and Google — whose attempts to bring wi-fi to San Francisco are but a fond memory — Meraki Networks comes armed with a consumer-based approach, reports The Associated Press.

Meraki Networks is persuading residents to install radio repeaters on their homes, which will power and spread the wireless network. It has given away 500 devices so far, covering an area no wider than two square miles.

10,000 to 15,000 more repeaters must be installed to support the entire city.

If its efforts in San Francisco succeed, Meraki will try providing Wi-Fi to cities in developing countries.

The approach differs significantly from those undertaken by Google and Earthlink.

Earthlink planned to sell access to a faster-speed network to cover its costs. Google planned to support its effort through ad sales on the free network. Both projects were abandoned due either to spiraling costs, or red-tape from the city.

For Meraki, however, the mayor of San Francisco has vowed to keep out of the way.

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