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San Francisco now has free public W-Fi courtesy of Google

San Franciscans can now search the Web, return e-mails or help their kids with homework at 30 city parks, plazas and recreation centers where free Wi-Fi was rolled out this week, thanks to a partnership between the city and Google. Supervisor Mark Farrell, Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials will officially unveil the free Internet access Wednesday morning, more than a year after Farrell announced the $600,000 gift from Google that he helped broker.

Organizations are working hard to promote exactly this kind of public-private partnership in the city. On Wednesday, San Franciscans were able to hook their gadgets up to free Wi-Fi that launched in 32 new public locations. All that connectivity was funded by a $608,000 check from Google, in a move that could be seen as the tech behemoth taking steps to foster goodwill amid complaints of rapid gentrification fueled by the tech boom of Silicon Valley. The free WiFi now available in San Francisco’s playgrounds, recreation centers, plazas and parks also fits in with the company’s long-standing promotion of Internet access in the U.S. and around the world. But lately politicians have more urgently encouraged big tech companies to show serious generosity, in both talent and funds, hoping to ameliorate the tensions that led to protests around “Google buses” earlier in the year.

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