Marking its biggest step into the wireless communications market to date, Google Inc. said Friday it has proposed to provide free wireless Internet services across the city of San Francisco.
The Web search company said it has responded to a request for information by the City of San Francisco to test local Internet services via Wi-Fi, the short-range wireless technology built into most new laptop computers.
“Google has submitted a proposal to offer free, wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi) to the entire city of San Francisco,” Google said in a statement.
The Wi-Fi access could be funded through online advertising, a Google spokesman said.
The service aims to test a range of new services and applications around the hilly city, which is home to more than 700,000 residents.
Offering free wireless communications could thrust Google into competition with entrenched local suppliers of broadband Internet access, including telephone network SBC Communications Inc. and local cable operator Comcast Corp.