San Francisco selects Google/EarthLink for wireless network

It's all come down to Google and EarthLink.

Officials from San Francisco's Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) said yesterday they will begin contract negotiations with those two companies, who jointly submitted a proposal to establish an affordable wireless broadband network across the city.

The proposal was among six that city officials considered in a process that began last December with the release of a request for proposals.

'Our goal sets the city apart,' DTIS Executive Director Chris Vein said in a prepared statement.

'The most important purpose for the network is to provide all San Franciscans, especially low-income families and residents of disadvantaged communities, with equal access to the social, educational and economic opportunities available online,' he said. 'We intend to reach this goal in a way that protects the privacy and security of all users and provides consumer choice through open access.'

Officials also hope to improve the efficiency of government services and public safety, enhance customer service, encourage economic development, help schools, provide telemedicine opportunities, establish contingency measures for disaster recovery and reduce government telecom costs.

A panel of city employees and an international consulting firm reviewed the proposals. Other finalists included Communication Bridge Global, MetroFi, nextWLAN, Razortooth Communications and a joint proposal from SeaKay, Cisco Systems and IBM.

If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the city can end negotiations and begin discussions with the company with the next highest-ranked proposal.

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