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So Much For Google The ISP, Huh?
Mountain View Wi-Fi Project 3 Years Later...
by Karl Bode 02:09PM Wednesday Aug 19 2009
Back in 2007 Google's acquisition of dark fiber, building of data centers and hiring of networking experts like Vint Cerf (co-creator of the TCP/IP protocol) led some to think the company wanted to be an ISP. In reality, they just wanted a more efficient and less expensive transit network for services, user storage and ads. However, their involvement with the White Space Coalition and experiments with Wi-Fi help feed the unlikely theory, which for a few years propelled onward like a lobotomized projectile, unsupported by facts.

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It's been three years since Google built their Wi-Fi network in their hometown of Mountain View California, at the time using 380 Tropos Wi-Fi nodes placed on utility poles around the city. The service began by offering users downstream speeds up to 1Mbps (roughly) and upstream speeds ranging from 144kbps to 986kbps. Tropos this week offered an update on the network, noting that it has reached 19,000 users and transmits some 600 gigabytes of user data per day.

"The Google WiFi network is a valuable community resource and helps increase economic development by making it easy for residents and visitors to stay connected anywhere around town," Margaret Abe-Koba, mayor of Mountain View, says in the Tropos release. "We are very pleased that Google continues to support our community with this robust service."

The network's been so successful, Google hasn't bothered to expand the service to a single other area in three years. This of course was because of the spectacular flame out of free, ad-driven citywide Wi-Fi services, but also because, again, Google was interested in experimenting with Wi-Fi ad delivery -- not becoming an ISP. Google has a five year contract with Mountain View to provide the service, after which they're free to shut it down.

"Google the ISP" simply isn't happening. It never was. You have a better chance waiting for Google's "dark porcelain" sewer broadband project, which was announced on April 1, 2007.

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just because someone likes to have a barbecue for the neighborhood every now and again doesn't mean they want to (or should) go into the restaurant business--no matter how many "neighbors" might suggest it.