Free Wifi Sometimes Really is Free

While the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco keeps arguing about who should own the free wifi network that Google and Earthlink are offering to build for all the residents of the City, and subsequently nothing is getting built, another company called Meraki is going out and actually building it.

On a serious note, there are actually some really good issues to be debated about the Google/Earthlink proposal, but like most things in politics what ends up getting debated is really a proxy fight about something else. This case is no different. The losers here are the residents of SF who pay higher taxes, absorb a higher cost of living, and end up leaving the City in droves when they start to have families, and in this case can’t even take advantage of something that companies are willing to give them for free.

Tom Foremski recently wrote about a public policy event that featured low turnout from tech companies. It’s not that there is a pandemic of disinterest in public policy among tech companies, indeed some of these executives and companies are the most informed and engaged of any private sector cross section, but there is widespread distaste with the process of public policy. Silicon Valley is about change, at least that’s what it’s supposed to be about, while politics at all levels is about status quo. Knowing what you know about SF politics, would you want to be involved in it?

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