Free Wi-Fi is a beautiful thing. Fortunately, it’s a beautiful thing that is becoming more and more common across America.
Supermarkets have free Wi-Fi. Restaurants have free Wi-Fi. And yes, Starbucks and McDonald’s will likely always have free Wi-Fi.
But San Francisco – already one of the most tech-happy cities on the planet – has taken free Wi-Fi to another level. The city of San Francisco and its county government have created a free Wi-Fi network along one of the busiest streets in San Francisco: Market Street.
This free network on Market Street was activated on Monday morning. It’s a collaboration between Ruckus Wireless and the city of San Francisco. Ruckus Wireless actually donated 150 of its unique outdoor access points and wireless network controllers and helped the city connect them to the existing fiber optic network.
Today, you can see the wireless stations mounted on poles and city property all along Market Street. The street’s free wireless access lasts about 3 miles and is built to provide average download speeds of 2Mbps and upload speeds of 1Mbps, although peak speeds may reach 50Mbps (like if you’re walking down Market Street at 4am with nobody else in sight).
Ad-free with no sign-in required
Free Wi-Fi signals are common, but they usually come with check-in restrictions, advertisements, and other garbage. I guess nothing in this world is free, right?
Well, the free Wi-Fi network on Market Street, San Francisco is free in more ways than one. It’s free of ads and free of restrictions. After connecting to the network and opening the browser, users are greeted with a welcome message from friendly mayor Edwin M. Lee which states:
“Welcome! Enjoy This Free Service.”
That’s it! Nice.
The end of a rocky, decade-long initiative
Free Wi-Fi isn’t a new idea in San Francisco. In fact, the city initially teamed up with Google and Earthlink in 2007 to create a citywide Wi-Fi network. Earthlink abandoned that project later that year and the project never came to fruition. That project was actually criticized for being a type of corporate takeover strategy and many criticized the seemingly benevolent goals of Earthlink and Google.
Today, the free Wi-Fi down Main Street is the very beginnings of that project. It’s not citywide – yet. But over the next few years, it should be accessible in more and more locations across the city.
If you’re walking down Market Street in San Francisco, USA in the near future, just look for the network with the SSID _San Francisco_Free_WiFi” and enjoy your free internet!