San Francisco finally has free Wi-Fi service along its main artery (Market Street) starting at the intersection with Castro Street and ending at the Ferry Building in Embarcadero. Ruckus Wireless donated the wireless access points and wireless engineering work, which it accomplished together with several other people including Tim Pozar (a contributor to MuniWireless). The city’s Department of Technology installed fiber along the length of Market Street for backhaul. Layer42, a Mountain View-based company, contributed 1 Gigabit of Internet access. According to Tim Pozar, you have to be on Market Street or overlooking Market St. from one to two storeys above to get access to the network.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “the city had signed a tentative agreement with AT&T in September 2012 to have the telecommunications company provide a free Market Street Wi-Fi network, but it expired before a final deal could be hammered out.”
Unlike the massive citywide Wi-Fi network that San Francisco had originally planned to deploy with EarthLink, these smaller Wi-Fi networks are appearing across the city in city parks, public buildings and squares. The city has chosen instead to enter into small partnerships with different companies. It remains to be seen how long these networks stay up and running, and how frequently the equipment gets updated (and how much bandwidth users actually have when they log on during the day).
If you want to try out the service, go to Market Street and look for this SSID: _San_Francisco_Free_WiFi