Free Wi-Fi—at a Price

Plans by cities to provide low-cost wireless Internet access could crimp sales for smaller providers and may spark a wave of consolidation

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A plan by San Francisco to blanket the city with free wireless Internet access may come as great news to residents eager to save a few bucks on broadband. But for the companies already in the business of selling wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, Internet access in almost 200 spots around San Francisco, it's likely to be a bane.

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