Google: Free WiFi For San Francisco? Sure, We Can Do That

from the sneaking-in-the-announcement dept

For all the rumors about Google’s plans to offer WiFi around the country, the company has said very little. However, they waited until late Friday, when most people have gone home for the weekend, to let out the news that they’re among the bidders to supply the free muni-WiFi in San Francisco. Mayor Gavin Newsom had made his plans clear, so that’s nothing new — but Google bidding for it (at the last minute) is worth noting. The company already offers a few hotspots that are ad supported, so it would be interesting to see how they would handle a full city’s worth of WiFi. There are various rationales for Google offering internet service, and they certainly have the cash to afford it. Whether or not Google can really handle being a “telco” remains to be seen, however.

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Comments on “Google: Free WiFi For San Francisco? Sure, We Can Do That”

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Brian (user link) says:

No Subject Given

Google as a telco makes me nervous. I get that feeling of impending doom when I read about it. Yes, using Wi-Fi from an advertising standpoint for Google’s many different ad-based services seems like a good idea but something about this still rubs me the wrong way. Quite honestly it makes me nervous about investing in Google. I say stick to search and ads.

anonymous paranoid coward says:

Re: Big Brother

I’m worried about Google’s Big Brother status. With them keeping a history of everything you have ever seached and accessed, and doing their best to index all of your email, it’s no joy that they would also want to track absolutely every internet move you make and tie it all together. I’ll bet that they would also use web traffic to watch for new, previously unknown (to them) pages to add to their search index.

Aaron Friel says:

Re: Re: Big Brother

With them keeping a history of everything you have ever seached and accessed

Can you prove this, or is it just your nagging suspicion that somehow Google not only has the hard drive space to archive billions of searches (a month? a week? day? hour?) but to archive the copy of the page you accessed so that they know what you like to look at?
I think at best you could only hope to be important enough to be a speck in their corporate eye. If we all stopped pretending we were uniquely important to them, maybe we’d see them for what they are, and not The Enemy.

A Bismark (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Big Brother

Here’s your proof.

If they can do it as a feature candidly, what keeps them from not keeping a private copy of your search history for themselves even when not signed up for the search history feature.

Either way, I am happy to sign up for this. If I were scared shit about searching the net in the first place or wanted to do it privately, I would not use a Search Engine, or atleast not from home…

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re: Big Brother

You do know you don’t have to use Google right?

They can’t “read” your mail if you don’t use Gmail.

They can’t track your websurfing if you don’t use

They can’t scan your porn collection if you don’t use Google Desktop.

If you have a problem with Googlephobia, then don’t use them. How difficult is that?

Mousky (user link) says:

Re: Re: Big Brother

Are you being forced to use Google as a search engine? Are your being forced to use Gmail? Are you being forced to use any of Google’s services? Anytime you download a piece of software from Google, the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy are right there. Use an online Google service? The TOU and Privacy Policy are clearly available. It’s not Big Brother when you voluntarily sign up for, or use a, service provided by a private company.

Clouser says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I for one... OS by Google! David

Make that three. I’d buy it.

But the truth is, all of us know instinctively that it is definately coming to us eventually — for FREE!

Just in the form of a different revenue (business) model. Who knows? Advertising? Maybe something totally different.

Whatever the case, it will be a real value-add, and we’ll be thrilled with it. Especially as it takes on Microsoft —

this is David vs. Goliath in some way.

Either Microsoft or Google will win in the end.

One will die.

I’m voting on the boy with the big heart, integrity, ingenuity and God on his side.

Mousky (user link) says:

Re: I for one...

Is there a pattern in Google’s behaviour that indicates that they would abuse their position as the leading search engine? Just wondering.

Yes, just over 50% of internet searches are supposedly done through Google. Alternatively, that means that almost 50% of internet searches are not done via Google. Hardly sounds like a monopoly. Google is dominant in searches, but I have yet to seem them abuse their position on any grand scale.

SkyDude says:

Would You Prefer....

Google in the wireless business might be good and it might be not so good. Of course, if I don’t like them, I don’t have to use them. But calling them the next Microsoft is disingenous. To do WiFi on a city wide basis is going to take lots of financial muscle. Would a mom-and-pop ISP be able to do that? I think not. Would you prefer a bunch of ISPs that each require signing up, logons, etc? There were a lot of mom-and-pop dial up ISPs ten years ago; where are they now?
City wide WiFi is the big leagues and the little ISPs can’t do it. Google has the muscle and I say let ’em show us what they can offer.

JPeg87 says:

next Microsoft?

What do you mean the next Micro$oft? I don’t see any $ in Google.

I don’t understand why people are so mad at Google. Micro$oft charges all sorts of people (poor, average, rich) for their shitty products, and Google charges companies for letting them have Ads on their pages. And that’s COMPANIES… RICH companies. With the revenue they make, they let poor people have a free internet access.

I say Google is the next Robin Hood!

Sarojin says:

Re: next Microsoft?

Or perhaps folks would prefer Verizon using political clout to make it illegal for cities to provides broadband or wi-fi service to residents, forcing them to use, hmm, anyone they want? No, forcing them to use Verizon, or Comcast, or whichever other huge company (with less than socially responsible business practices and labor relations) charging 2 or 3 times what the city would, and sucking all of that money out of the community and into the coffers of the global corporations?
At least, so far, Google hasn’t been abusive and tried to screw folks over in the name of profit.

[turtLe] says:

No Subject Given

Google will have access to everything you’ve searched, your emails, and your interests. So they are a giant company that knows so much about each individual person, I myself find that slightly creepy. Ever heard of skynet, not much relevance, but still a supercomputer that knows everything about people turns ?corrupt??

Sarojin says:

Re: No Subject Given

Poindexter is doing this for the DOD using your tax dollars right now! Total Information Awareness

Taken a flight lately? Then they ran a check on you to see if you were a “terrorist” threat…bank records, credit cards, etc.

This is a fundamental privacy issue, not one isolated to Google and wi-fi.

Not like Google is the only company capable of tracking web usage etc. I look more at the business practices of the company to decide where to give money.

aleeya (profile) says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

That is what I do not get. People seem to freak out of the idea of “tracking” … but anything google tracks is already being tracked as it is.

Do you think that people dont read web server logs? Companies like yahoo and MSN don’t see the search logs and use it to help improve their search engines?

What is google doing different other than making it publically know your stuff is being tracked instead of out of site out of mind like other companies?

Whether it is announced like google does.. or not.. it is STILL being tracked.

Jeff says:

wifi is the wrong technology for MAN

The MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) space will be overtaken by 802.16e and/or 3G in the next year or two. Albiet, WiFi may fill in a temporary gap it will be a hugh undertaking to install, and particularly maintain WiFi over such a large area with 300ft radius devices. I think it is a waste of money.

Sun Kim (user link) says:

Re: wifi is the wrong technology for MAN

> hugh undertaking to install,

Google bought a utilities company as well if you remember, so it may not be as difficult as people propose. Just install a WAP on every electricity pole in the city. A 7×7 mile grid is not difficult to cover, especially when you have huge parts of the city that is low density or artificial parks.

Start with the high density populations and you can serve most of technology population quickly. I doubt poor people will receive WiFi in their area until places like the financial district get their setup.

wifi installer says:

Re: wifi is the wrong technology for MAN

if you really think that a wifi device will only cover three hundred feet you’ve got some research to do. I have done 20 mile links. I am personal friends with the record holder for longest canopy link at 28 miles. i have seen entire towns covered with 2 sector antenna’s.

Josh (user link) says:

google's wifi

I think it would be cool if they did that. although, i dont think they are next to microsoft. If you think about it, microsoft has basicly changed the computer world for ever. Most programs and computers use windows, and google has done what? search engine? if it wasnt for microsoft, most of google’s features wouldnt be here. if you look, alot of their beta products need windows, and internet explorer. So i wouldnt compare google to microsoft like that. Everyone says microsoft sucks, but honestly, is ANYTHING in computers 100% secure and perfect? no its not.

Robert Lynch says:

Google and Wi-Fi change

What If?

What would happen if. . . . .. . . Google has never hidden the fact that they want to change the way people have access to the internet. The way people have access to information. From the scanning of millions of pages of text, to the want to give people free wi-fi access. To the need to make a better search engine.

Everybody assumes that they are after Microsoft?s profits. I don’t think so. I think they are after a fundamental change in the way people get info. Just look at how they went public with their dutch auction. They try to empower people with change. It is in the minds of the founders that this philosophy comes. Unlike Microsoft, they want to actually help people become self educated with the simple ability to have free access to info.

Imagine if a business model could be made that would turn the idea of making money off the net into a free experience for the user. Imagine if you could turn the internet into a free phone book where it costs money to advertise. And the phone book was free to everybody. And then imagine if you were a middle man standing between a Billion people and the information they are after. That last fact has always been the premise of Google.

I believe Google will fund a free wifi network using Suns servers and power it with both Java and Googles own software. And you could cruise the web for free if only you use their software. And this software is free to download. Google would finance this by selling bandwidth and space to retailers who want to be seen on this free network. Just like a phone book. They would finance this by selling advertising like they have been so good at doing already. They would fundamentally change the way people get onto and use the internet for information.

Everything points to this. Why else has Google bought dark lanes without giving a believable reason as to why they would do such a thing? Why else would they form an alliance with Sun Microsystems for their hardware? Why else would they form an alliance with WFI, a builder of wi-fi networks? It also explains why Google offers secure wi-fi software for free download from their site that they mark as ?Beta? software. They even have a trial wi-fi network surrounding their building that the company says is a service to the community. You could say that this is just a precursor to them wanting to build a wi-fi network around San Francisco. I don?t believe it. It has farther reaching implications than you can possible imagine.

Google is a company that has always wanted to empower the individual at the expense of the ?Big Corporations?. But like it or not, Google is a big corporation with an extremely large amount of cash in the bank and one of the few internet companies making more money than it spends. And like it or not, It has to make money to stay in business.

Would you hop onto their network for free and dump your monthly bill for broadband now? All the while knowing you had to use their software to do it? I would because 40 bucks a month is too much and there is no compelling reason why Comcast would lower its? price. Would the local city you were in subsidize some of this bandwidth with higher taxes knowing that this tax money would go to making Google bigger? Would E-Commerce really pay to have access to millions of people by giving money to the providers Google and Sun Microsystems in the form of advertising fees and fees to get on their network that people use for free. Would Comcast and DSL providers allow Google to rewrite the business model for the way ISP?s make money?

I truly do believe that this is the future of the internet, the FREE internet. This model could not work when the internet was brand new. You needed customers at their home to pay a monthly subscription fee to finance the building of the long haul networks. But now it?s different. The infrastructure is built up enough to enable this model to happen. But at the same time, this model is a Big Boom for the industry. If everybody all at once had high speed access the long haul and local area networks, would the industry have to upgrade or install more optical equipment to meet the needs of required data transfer? And who would pay for all this infrastructure? Or maybe the current infrastructure is big enough to handle the load at the current proposed 300 kbs speed Google is proposing to install in the SF bay area and beyond

Google has literally billions of dollars and the only way to stop this scenario is for E-Commerce retailers to choose not to give money to Google for advertising and access to end users at home. But that?s too late for they already finance Google?s bills currently and are hungry for more access to more people. Will Google pioneer pay per click to the next level. Will Google become the devil to E-Commerce and the savior to ordinary people who can?t afford broadband but still want information that the internet can provide?

I as the author of this blog am unsure of the outcome of what I am predicting. I do not know if this will actually come true or not but right now I truly believe this scenario makes sense. I only know that the people at Google have lots of money, strategic partners, and the mindset to change the way people use the internet. And they are constantly asking the question of ?.. .What if?

Robert Lynch

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