San Francisco launches free Wi-Fi in public spaces, with help from Google

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The city of San Francisco has made good on its year-old promise to bring free Wi-Fi to 31 public spaces, officially launching the service on Wednesday.

The roll out was made possible thanks to a $600,000 donation from Web giant Google, whose head office is located in nearby Mountain View.

Visitors to parks, plazas and recreation centers across the city can now use their Wi-Fi-enabled devices to surf the Web, send messages, update Facebook, or whatever they like to do when they’re online.

Google’s cash paid for the project’s equipment and installation, and will also help to cover maintenance costs for the next two years.

A number of similar public Wi-Fi initiatives have come and gone in San Francisco in recent years, so it’ll come as a great relief to city officials that this latest plan, announced 15 months ago, has finally come to fruition.

Mayor Edwin Lee described the new service as “another step toward 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.”

Meanwhile, Google’s Rebecca Prozan said the network would “make the Web more accessible than ever for thousands of our neighbors,” adding that getting online was now “as easy as heading to the local park.”

Google and other tech titans based in the San Francisco area have been having a hard time of it recently, with some of the city’s residents becoming increasingly concerned that the enormous wealth created by such companies is failing to find its way back into the local community, pushing up both property prices and living costs.

The Mountain View company will no doubt be hoping that its work to bring free Wi-Fi to many parts of the city will be taken as a positive by residents as it tries to improve its image among the local population.

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