Earthlink/Google, here we come

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By Tim Redmond

The Ex reports this morning that Mayor Newsom claims he's just "seconds away" from cutting a deal with Google and Earthlink to provide free WiFi in the city. So this will be tossed to the supervisors pretty soon -- and already, Newsom is pulling the usual mayoral line, which is to demand that the deal be accepted as is, without a lot of changes.

Newsom will say that it took 10 months of complex talks to reach this point, and that if the board starts micromanaging the contract and making a lot of amendments, the entire deal could fall through. We've heard this same line over and over again.

The supes can't be intimidated here, and I don't think they will be. Because the deal that I've heard described is not terribly good for the city. For starters, the free wifi is pretty weak, 300 Kbs; to get a decent speed on your connection, you need to pay. Then there's the long term aspect -- it would lock the city into a private vendor for as long as 16 years.

I don't think the supes should go along with this -- at least not until there's a good-faith effort to look into a city-run system.