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October 02, 2005

Google offers free Wi-Fi for San Francisco

Google Inc. wants to connect all of San Francisco to the Internet with a free wireless service, creating a springboard for the online search engine leader to leap into the telecommunications industry.

Google spokesman Nate Tyler said Saturday that the company doesn’t have any plans to offer a Wi-Fi service outside the San Francisco Bay area.

“Unwiring San Francisco is a way for Google to support our local Bay Area community,” Tyler said. “It is also an opportunity to make San Francisco a test-ground for new location-based applications and services that enable people to find relevant information exactly when and where they need it.”

Google has been quietly experimenting with Wi-Fi service in a few connection spots around the Bay Area and New York during the past few months. In another sign of its interest in Internet access, Google recently bought an undisclosed stake in a Maryland startup, the Current Communications Group, which is trying to provide high-speed connections through power lines.

Building its own wireless Internet network connection also would help Google save money by reducing the fees that it pays to the telecommunications middlemen that provide a bridge between the company’s data centers and Internet service providers whenever Web surfers make a search request.

Any free Internet access service would threaten to siphon revenue from subscription Internet service providers like SBC Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. that have invested heavily in high-speed connections that depend on phone lines and cable modems.

A Google Wi-Fi service also could divert traffic from many popular Web sites, including Yahoo, MSN and AOL, if it’s set up to automatically make Google’s home page the first stopping point.

October 2, 2005 in Web/Tech | Permalink

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