Remember all those promises of a glorious, citywide wi-fi signal that would be free to one and all, which the city kind of renegged on a couple years back? Well, now the Department of Technology is taking a baby-step toward a free public wi-fi network, promising to install wireless hubs all the way up Market Street from the Embarcadero to Castro Street, making Words With Friends games far faster while riding Muni buses. After the Market Street network is up and running, early next year, the Mission Street corridor may be next.
As it happens, they've already begun the process of creating public hotspots, and there are already "dozens of [them], mostly around low-income communities, parks, hospitals and libraries." S.F.'s acting CIO, Jon Walton, thinks that the "patchwork approach will eventually lead to the same result" as installing a citywide system, which turned out to be too expensive and difficult as the original plan took shape. The Chron notes that "Similarly ambitious efforts have flopped around the country for some combination of political, economic or technical reasons."
So, come winter/spring, look for SFGov_Free_WiFi popping up among your available networks, at least while you're strolling Market Street.