San Francisco awaits free wireless
Newsom lags in fulfilling his promise of free WiFi
By Camille T. Taiara
Mayor Gavin Newsom promised to put San Francisco at the forefront of efforts to overcome the digital divide. But today his pledge to implement free wireless Internet access citywide remains unfulfilled. And if he doesn't do something about it quickly, it soon may be too late to make good on his word.
Anyone who's ever had to wait half an hour or more just to log on to the Internet at the local library knows only too well about the demand for free access in this city. Regulars sign up hours ahead of time for coveted, 30-minute slots. But the backup only hints at a bigger problem: a persistent gap in levels of access between low-income San Franciscans and those who can afford computers and monthly Internet service fees.
While many will argue that we face more pressing problems %u2013 persistent homelessness, crises in our schools and health care systems %u2013 advocates point to the pending convergence between television, telephone, and Internet technologies as a key reason why the digital divide is a problem that needs to be resolved, and soon.