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Municipal Broadband Case Study: San Francisco’s Community Wireless Broadband Initiative

Municipal Broadband Case Study: San Francisco’s Community Wireless Broadband Initiative
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Author(s): Heather E. Hudson (University of San Francisco, USA)
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 5
Source title: Managing Worldwide Operations and Communications with Information Technology
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-929-8.ch269
ISBN13: 9781599049298
EISBN13: 9781466665378


In December 2005, the city of San Francisco issued a request for proposal (RFP) for a community wireless broadband network. The RFP stated that the network was to be built, operated and maintained at no cost to the city, that a basic level of service should be free, and that the entire city should be covered. Responses submitted included two proposals from consortia of major high tech firms (EarthLink and Google, IBM and Cisco) and four proposals from smaller firms and consortia. The EarthLink/Google proposal was selected as the winner. This initiative has achieved significant national and even international attention, largely because of San Francisco’s visibility in the high tech world, and the involvement of Google. While San Francisco’s wireless broadband initiative is an innovative approach to increasing broadband access for its residents, its underlying assumptions and strategies appear somewhat flawed. This paper analyzes the assumptions, the RFP and selection process, and compares them with municipal wireless initiatives in nearby Silicon Valley communities. The paper concludes with lessons and unresolved issues from the San Francisco experience relevant for other municipal broadband projects and for broadband community access in general.

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