Free wi-fi for all of San Francisco, courtesy of…

Google.

That’s the offer Google is providing the City of San Francisco, details here. They haven’t stated whether they would use consumer advertising to pay for the extensive network, but they would charge companies that wanted to offer internet services through it. Most important is that this removes the controversy of private sector companies accusing municipalities of unfair competition when they get involved in providing a digital infrastructure.

This is just yet another indication that the knowledge/information economy is dependent on a comprehensive digital infrastructure replacing an asphalt one. Or at least, the cities that emerge economically will accelerate this transition. Thus, it should be no coincidence that San Francisco is gaining a city-wide wireless network at the same time it chooses not to rebuild crumbling freeway overpasses.