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August 27, 2007

Google can manage a wireless network

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 12:09 PM

Ever since Google showed interest in participating in the next auction selling airwaves for a wireless network, the Internet giant has received a fair amount of skepticism.

But take this into account: Google's Mountain View, Calif. Wi-Fi network is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Where many telecom companies and others haven't been able to get Wi-Fi networks up and running on a reliable basis, perhaps Google has.

On its anniversary, it provided a few data points. It said 400 Wi-Fi routers cover 12 square miles and 25,000 homes. Google said about 15,000 unique users connect to the network each month, and since the beginning of this year, traffic has grown almost 10 percent each month.

Google used this anniversary to get across two messages. The first is why it built the network. It says it is into promoting alternative platforms for people to access the Web because many people still don't have access.

Second, Google said that if it can do it, surely EarthLink and San Francisco can figure out how to roll out a citywide network. The two have been working on a plan for some time to blanket the whole city, but without showing much progress.

It's also worth asking where else Google is headed in the wireless world. There are rumors floating around that the company has developed a Gphone that will launch next month. The Business Standard reported that the phone's launch will come with a financial committment of $7 billion to $8 billion.


Google also has said it earmarked a minimum of $4.6 billion for the spectrum auction in January if the FCC would approve a number of Google's proposals. The FCC did not approve all of them, however Google said it still might participate.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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Angel Gonzalez
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