Google and Earthlink have submitted a combined proposal to build San Francisco's municipal WiFi network. It's a pairing that makes sense: Earthlink is emerging as a leader in the municipal wireless network space with its win in Philadelphia and in other places, while Google's interest in running a municipal network wasn't necessarily in being an access provider, but in having a network on which it could test out new ideas and products. Earthlink says the plan follows its idea of open access -- which would lead one to believe that like in Philadelphia, they'll support multiple ISPs on their network. So perhaps Google will be but one, offering free service in exchange for users having advertising displayed to them, while others might offer more traditional paid service. It's important to remember, though, that five other companies also submitted bids, so it's not a done deal -- but the money is certainly on this Earthlink/Google combo. City officials say they'll make recommendations by April.
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