Why WiFi?

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By Steven T. Jones
Mayor Gavin Newsom and his administration are so intent on following through with their promise to deliver free wireless Internet to SF residents that they've basically dispensed with seeking input from the public or Board of Supervisors, locked into private and protracted negotiations with Google and Earthlink, and simply decided not to do the board-approved study of Sup. Tom Ammiano's plan for a municipal broadband system. The unilateral, secretive approach has driven journalists and activists nuts. But there is an opportunity tonight at 6 p.m. to weigh in during a hastily called and little noticed hearing before the Department of Telecom and Info Services. Media Alliance has been raising hell over the issue and this week the group is releasing a study showing that the city could make $2 million per year with a municipal Internet system, as opposed to going with Newsom's so-called "free" system, which wouldn't make the city any money and would subject citizens to targetted advertising. The tradeoff might be worth it, but there are still too many unknown details to know that, so show up this evening to talk about it.