Mayor Edwin M. Lee today launched a free municipal wireless internet access (Wi-Fi) service along Market Street – the City’s busiest and most economically diverse corridor. Starting in the Castro neighborhood and ending at The Embarcadero along the entire Market Street corridor, Wi-Fi access will be accessible to everyone with a smart phone, laptop or any Wi-Fi enabled mobile device.
“Nearly a quarter-million people walk down Market Street every day, and now they will be able to connect to the Internet through our free public Wi-Fi,” said Mayor Lee. “Providing Wi-Fi on our City’s main busy thoroughfare is a big first step towards a larger vision of connectivity for our City as a whole, bridging the digital divide and ensuring that our diverse communities have access to innovation.”
The Department of Technology (DT) developed the advertisement-free wireless internet access. The Market Street project was made possible by a public-private partnership from Bay Area-based Ruckus Wireless that donated the hardware. Layer42 Networks, a provider of connectivity and data center hosting solutions, also generously contributed one gigabit of internet access service to allow the Market Street network to reach the public internet. DT staff and selected vendors designed and implemented the uniquely municipal-owned service.
“The speed we provide on upload and download as well as the friendly user experience with no ads and no strings attached reflects the spirit of San Franciscans,” DT Director and Chief Information Officer Marc Touitou. “Whether it’s accessing a bus schedule or finding a bargain at a local store, this network will do wonders for improving the quality of life for our residents while also accommodating our visitors who contribute to our local economy.”
“As a proud San Francisco Bay Area based company, we are excited about this opportunity to partner with the City to provide technology resources that gives ubiquitous access to everyone on a wireless network,” said Ruckus Wireless President and Chief Executive Officer Selina Lo. “This project reflects a shared vision and understanding that reliable wireless connectivity is now viewed as a utility that has become as nearly as essential as power.”
A new website provides a tutorial on how to connect to the Wi-Fi network and shows a GIS map of the access points for service along Market Street. For more information, go to: www.sfgov.org/sanfranciscowifi
San Francisco currently has 130 miles of fiber optic cable beneath its streets. This fiber network provides high-speed internet to many of the City’s municipal buildings, neighborhood firehouses, police stations, recreational facilities, science facilities like The Exploratorium and the Academy of Sciences and educational institutions like UCSF, San Francisco State University and San Francisco City College.
Mayor Lee has embraced Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Genachowski’s “gigabit city” challenge and at the 81st Annual Meeting of the US Conference of Mayors, Mayor Lee introduced a resolution to support increased access to broadband and spectrum as essential steps to continually encourage innovation, drive economic growth, and remain competitive in the 21st Century global economy.
Mayor Lee today also announced that the City has completed an overhaul of the Wi-Fi network on Treasure Island, which was initially built in 2008. The overhaul has resulted in improved connections and faster and more robust service for over 2,500 residents and small businesses on Treasure Island.
In July, Mayor Lee and Supervisor Mark Farrell in partnership with Google announced plans to install free Wi-Fi for the general public at 31 parks, plazas and open spaces across San Francisco, including at Civic Center Plaza and Union Square. The installation of free wireless internet service in City parks will begin in Spring 2014, and all 31 sites are expected to be fully completed and ready for use by San Francisco’s residents and visitors by Summer 2014.
These efforts build on the existing free public internet access that has been available since 2005 at 28 public libraries, the DeYoung Museum, Legion of Honor, Laguna Honda Hospital, and City Hall. Mayor Lee has been developing a strategic plan to further expand connectivity for the public benefit in various locations across the City, and continues to work collaboratively with organizations and members of the public in ensuring that internet connectivity and high speed internet is accessible for all residents.