Google Fiber, the company's first official entrance into the Internet service provider (ISP) marketplace, has already expanded to a handful of locations. Now Google reportedly is considering the addition of public Wi-Fi service in 34 cities, all of which would be receiving Fiber as well.
Google is sending out documents to the residents of 34 cities in order to build up interest in a possible Wi-Fi service, according to tech news media. Just like the previous Google Fiber expansions, the company would have to work with local officials before entering the area and setting up as a new ISP.
Google's document says the company needs a response from local officials in the locations by May 1 if they are interested in having the company's super-high-speed Fiber and possibly the new Wi-Fi service installed. Since the Wi-Fi service may rely on Fiber's infrastructure, the setup for either option is difficult and expensive.
Google will require detailed information regarding the layout of a city, including the location of utility poles, manholes, rights of way, etc, in order for it to come up with an efficient Google Fiber setup. On top of that, the company reportedly needs land for utility huts, which would be leased for up to 20 years.
The Google Fiber cables would run from the huts to individual neighborhoods and would then be used to service a few hundred locations. If a public Wi-Fi service was included with the setup, it would provide a new way for people to get online when they are not inside of their homes.
A New Connection Method
Details regarding how the Wi-Fi service would actually work were not included in the document, which means that we do not know how fast the connection would be. Even if it were not particularly fast, free and ubiquitous Internet connectivity is not something that consumers would dislike. The availability of free Wi-Fi has grown exponentially in recent years, but it is generally limited to business locations.
Last year, Google began to show its interest in public Wi-Fi when it paid $600,000 to blanket 31 San Francisco parks with Internet connectivity. For two years, Google will keep up the service for free and then turn it over to the city.
Providing free Wi-Fi helps Google in a variety of ways and the company has already shown that it would like to cover the U.S. and other countries with Wi-Fi if possible. While the rollout would presumably occur in major cities, citizens in those areas would finally have a way to get online without using up their mobile data allowance.
It is still unclear whether Google is looking to directly compete with the major ISPs with with its 1-gigabit Google Fiber or its Wi-Fi service, but given the costs associated with laying down fiber lines, it is definitely working towards something significant.