Bright idea? Google wants to rent 1,500 light poles in S.F.

Bright idea? Google wants to rent 1,500 light poles in S.F.


To my way of thinking, 1,500 is a lot of anything. That’s the number of city lights poles that Google wants to appropriate for wireless equipment in San Francisco.

You’ll remember that after an exhaustive search, the city approved the bid by the search engine giant and ISP EarthLink to build a wireless network around the “City by the Bay.” That plan called for a new series of light poles to be built especially for the network. Yet now, Google is wanting to do its own thing, asking the city to rent out one and a half thousand light poles for its own network.

It’s a bit complicated for my tastes because it sounds like the city is going to be inundated with poles. I’ve walked through the streets of San Francisco on numerous occasions, and there’s not a whole lot of room for a new fleet of light poles anyway, which is probably why Google wants to piggyback on the ones that are already standing in the ground. They’ve done the same sort of thing in Mountain View, but that is a smaller city with a much smaller population. And why do they need to do this now? Can’t they wait until the network poles are built?

At least one city official who would have some say in the approval of this giant request is skeptical of its merits. The whole plan is being pursued under protest, sometimes fierce, from people who insist that the city won’t get its fair share of the network.