Supes seek tweak of S.F.’s Wi-Fi deal

The high-tech company that proposes to blanket San Francisco in a free wireless Internet network is being asked to agree to a numberof changes, ranging from a shorter contract term to faster free service.

The five-member Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee postponed on Wednesday its vote on the proposed agreement with EarthLink to give the company more time to respond to the requested changes. EarthLink says it will respond by early next week.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin proposed the changes to EarthLink last week. Some members of the board have criticized the proposed agreement, saying the free service offered by EarthLink would be too slow and suggesting a city-run network would be better.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who submitted his high-profile agreement with EarthLink in January for approval, continues to urge the board to act on it without delay.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, however, said that board members’ concerns were not listened to leading up to the agreement’s submission.

Peskin’s proposed changes include increasing the free Internet wireless service from 300 kilobits per second to 500, decreasing the length of the contract from 16 to eight years, and giving The City the option to purchase the technology at a fair market price at the end of the contract.

Ammiano said there is now “potential” for the agreement to pass at the board in an 11-0 vote. However, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick said even if Peskin’s proposal is agreed to, he still thinks the agreement is flawed and favors a city-owned network.

Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said “the tide has turned” given that just a few months ago, the Mayor’s Office was “having trouble” even getting the board to hold a hearing on the agreement.

The committee is expected to hear the agreement on July 25.

jsabatini@examiner.com


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