Google to Wi-Fi San Francisco

Google has won its bid to cover San Francisco with blanket Wi-Fi access suggesting that a series of similar schemes could soon be rolling out across the US and beyond.

In a statement by the Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) in San Francisco, the government department said that it "will initiate contract negotiations with Earthlink/Google to create a universal, affordable wireless broadband network in the City".

Google and Earthlink beat competition from rivals including IBM and Cisco Systems for the right to build the $15m infrastructure to support the project.

Google is expected to offer the service for free with users agreeing to be shown adverts as they view pages.

Earthlink will provide a service that runs about four times faster, although users will have to pay a subscription of around $20 (£11.40) a month for access.

Google already offers blanket coverage for the entire city of Mountain View with free Wi-Fi - no strings (or wires) attached.

When the company launched the offering in November last year it was clear that the Mountain View Wi-Fi offering is prelude to much larger things.

“The company wants to use Mountain View as a test site to learn more about the cost and the challenges of building and supporting a wireless network, with the ultimate aim of driving more traffic to Google", Google product manager Minnie Ingersoll told the San Jose Mercury News at the time.

It appears that time has started to arrive.