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Free Wi-Fi for All - from Google?

 9:01 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Interesting conjecture piece from business 2.0 about Google's recent interest in buying dark fiber - a project that Business 2.0 has hypothetically named "GoogleNet".

So once the GoogleNet is built, how would consumers connect for free access? One of the cheapest ways would be for Google to blanket major cities with Wi-Fi, and evidence gathered by Business 2.0 suggests that the company may be trying to do just that.

In April it launched a Google-sponsored Wi-Fi hotspot in San Francisco’s Union Square shopping district, built by a local startup called Feeva. Feeva is reportedly readying more free hotspots in California, Florida, New York, and Washington, and it's possible that Google may be involved. Feeva CEO Nitin Shah confirms that the company is working with Google but won't discuss details.




 9:03 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)



 9:25 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

First company to integrate free internet access with free search, mail, directions, calender, and product search is going to be head and shoulders above the rest for quite a few years to come.


 9:32 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)


Yeah - I was thinking just that as I read the article. It would be a brilliant long term direction and could generate an amazing income stream from advertising. Forget the "Google as library" model - it's "Google as the world-conquering add delivery network".

Making $$$ with advertising is Google's core competency.


 10:42 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

I appreciate the article's intelligent projections, but the idea sounds like a nightmare for Google. Establishing and maintaining a free, international wi-fi network is well beyond the notion of "organizing the world's information" -- that would be at the level of starting their own telecommunications company. Still, when they bought up all of that dark fiber, it was clear they were up to something big.


 10:54 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Establishing and maintaining a free, international wi-fi network is well beyond the notion of "organizing the world's information"

from their website, google's complete motto is:

"organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful."

free wireless would certainly fall under the "universally accessible" part of their motto.


 10:57 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

how do you say S-P-E-C-U-L-A-T-I-O-N?

Sure they sponsored the one in SF, but that's their neighborhood. Plenty of companies offer free Hotspots near their building. It's great for marketing and very inexpensive. I'm sure its much harder that this article makes it look. Google already has the eyes of 50% of population who use search engines and presumably the same people will sign up for this too. If it's true, it would be interesting to see Google vs Verizon, Time Warner and other phone and DSL companies.


 1:07 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree that something is up here with Google, dont anyone get fooled that this is not possible!

I agree because of this and many other reasons.
"organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful."

I use to manage an investment think-tank and stock analysis company, have also had time working at AG Edwards and got in pretty good with Hedge funds and many other investment analysis types of activities such as technical analysis and investment analysis... wrote cutting edge stories for Investorsalley.com, the early days of Ragingbull.com and many others.

I feel VERY STONGLY that there is something up here, enough so that I bought into JDS Uniphase and Yahoo.

The world is at the fingertips of Google and Yahoo as far as their reach.

Did you know that Poland has always been ahead of the USA as far as text messaging, Italy has text messaging capability on most of their public pay phones, the USA is far behind still, The USA loves to get all the lawyers involved and waste all our time so they can make the big buckoes. In fact there have been discussions over allowing for internet on all electrical lines in the USA, Poland has been doing this forever. Still think they are third world.

Watch the average person type a text message in Holland and or Poland, they type using cell phone buttons faster than most secretaries on a type writer, the type writer which is of course more efficient at getting the text entered properly. Spending time there (Poland, Holland, Denmark this summer) I can see some interesting possibilities coming out of this all.

Yahoo has much of the market covered with SBC and Yahoo! DSL, Yahoo is playing this game as well. Then there is Boeing with the WiFi deal on all the planes. Hmmm

People go out and dig deeper into this and see what you can turn up, Feeva Wirless can get cash from investments by Google and there is more room for another IPO here and there.

As the owner of a well established SEO firm I see many benefits for us all in this Google mystery. Fact is it does not seem to be such a mystery to me exactly; I am already taking steps to be involved in this expected future by making wise investments myself.

The digging is needed and I hope we can all come up with some good ideas on this one. I expect much more about this soon, I am sure this will be the talk of Wall Street soon enough. Let’s beat them to the knowledge here on WebmasterWorld.




 1:12 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yahoo also has BT in the UK and Rogers in Canada - not to mention they will also be launching with Verizon.


 1:15 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

About Feeva from thier homepage. - "Specific User Group" makes me wonder, Maybe Google users - all of them that are signed up via Google logins? Hmmmm


Feeva, Inc. (formerly UnwireNow) provides a software platform that allows businesses and metro areas to provide WiFi access for free or with low user fees. Our solution radically changes the way that WiFi — and even wired — access is delivered to the public or to any specific user group.

Feeva's solution is ideal for any entity or business that wants to provide wireless or wired Internet access to the public or to a specific user group, but doesn't want to risk a large upfront investment.

Our software platform is also ideal for city governments that want to provide public WiFi access that doesn't require public financing. The City and County of San Francisco selected Feeva as its wireless network provider last year for WiFi zones covering Union Square and the main branch of the public library.


 2:28 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Perhaps this is coincidental...

but I wrote an Email to Google (I'm a small publisher using Google Adsense program to monetize my web sites) almost a year ago about sponsoring a "free" advertisement-based Wi-Fi Network - I am the former web master for one of the original 802.11 wireless ISPs - Wireless Internet Services, Inc. Obviously one individual doesn't have much "negotiating power" with a Big corporation such as Google, but I figured if they thought my concept had merit they might at least offer me a job since I possess a "democratic vision" for the Net which I have been helping to promote since 1996 - the year that US Telecommunications Reform Act helped to spur competition, (still would be nice Google).

Among the several "selling points" I presented to Google for consideration was the fact that because Google doesn't own any "pipes" (internet IP network), Google was in a very vulnerable position should its competitors decide to play "hard ball." Theoretically any of its competitors which own and/or operates its own network could block all of its network users from accessing Google's web site, thereby starving Google of its revenue generating source - search traffic. In actuality, Google is just another web site and has virtually no control over its ultimate destiny as some of its competitors could almost instantaneously cut traffic to Google's web site. Many of its competitors have access to the end users - Yahoo has relationships with SBC, BT, Rogers and Softbank in Japan. AOL has AOL and Time Warner Cable. MSN has MSN TV (WebTV) and relationships with Qwest, Verizon, Sympatico - not to mention that Bill Gates is a major shareholder in Comcast and I believe a couple other cable outfits.

Google has no "relationship" with any access provider and therefore in a very precarious position because they cannot guarantee connectivity with the market place without having some direct outlet from which consumers can connect to Google's web site to utilize Google search & all the other advanced features that Google has been developing to make the Net more convenient, informative and entertaining. So I postulated that the only way that Google could protect its revenue stream was by acquiring its own "pipes," and thereby insuring that they have direct access to its customers - web searchers, along with the revenue that they generate for Google. I suggested to Google that most economically feasible method is to create a network of Wi-Fi Hotspots in major cities and towns, which could be expanded to more rural areas as economics allow network scalability. Of course it is a given to eventually tie the entire network of hotspots together with MOBILE WiMAX, once the equipment is available at a reasonable price.

Some time after I submitted my "proposal" to Google, I read that Google had an employment position for someone experienced at purchasing Dark Fiber... I had an inkling then that Google must have recognized the seriousness of their potential vulnerability, and was planning some way of remedying the situation. Now that everyone is speculating about a "FREE Google Wi-Fi Hotspots Network," I say that they would be wise to follow the plan of action that I proposed about a year ago.

Otherwise, Google is sort of a "sitting duck" waiting to be blown out of the water by sharp-shooting competitors that need to position and protect their business for the future - today's business models are changing fast for "communications" companies thanks to convergence - remember THAT buzzword?

Convergence is finally arriving!


 3:14 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Whew! Not to put down anyone here, but this sorta reminds me of the discussion a few years ago about what Dean Kamen was working on. People thought it was going to be a flying car or something that got 500 miles to the gallon. Instead, it was the Segway scooter, which is nifty, but it's not a flying car.

That said...

Over the last few years if you spent some time with the DSL folks and finally look them in the eye and say, "Get real, you ain't making it against cable, buddy," they would come back with "exclusive content."

And, now you see it suggested on their ads. With Verizon DSL, you get into concerts, they suggest. They never say "only" with Verizon. But, they're thinking like that. Sports, too. So, you want major league baseball big time, you have to sign up for Verizon, etc.

I have some trouble with this. The old idea of content being tied to one pipe is the old network TV idea. Right now, the biggest TV network is the "Law and Order" network. More people watch Law and Order each week than watch any one cable or TV network. Content IS the channel. The network/pipe isn't going to be able to change that.

Google needs to focus on being the best search engine. That is, providing the best content. Then they'll be the best and biggest network.

Walkman has got it right--this is wild (but fun) speculation.


 5:32 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

It does not sound like they are putting it up. Sounds like they are just helping others put it up. That way someone else has to maintain they just give out money or hardware.

GrendelKhan TSU

 5:38 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

don't know about the rest....its fun and I wouldn't rule out the move COMPLETELY..........buuuuuuuutt... this:

I have some trouble with this. The old idea of content being tied to one pipe is the old network TV idea. Right now, the biggest TV network is the "Law and Order" network. More people watch Law and Order each week than watch any one cable or TV network. Content IS the channel. The network/pipe isn't going to be able to change that.

is sooooooo true. And not just in the US. Content is king. Korea is the most wired country in the world (broadband) and can be argued to have one of the most sophiticated and advanced internet offerings in the world (I see many copy cat tech and sites in the States years after it existed in Korea). But even with all that...

The dominant search engines and portals (btw...which are NOT google---google is like 10th(?) here) have all the eyes and ears and almost non of the pipes. Its still about the content. true for wireless content as well.

just some perspective from "google who?" side of the world.


 8:47 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Very curious. I agree that its all speculation. However if Google were really to do it then it wouldn't be about the pipe, it would be about the content. So far GeoIP has been pretty unreliable, but with the users on their own Wi-Fi network they could target customer's exactly down the the street that they are on....

.... or they could ask them to type in their address! :-P


 9:47 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

It is all about controlling the user.

Google's current position is quite weak as they are generally know as the 'search engine' of choice only.
Yahoo hold an advantage over Google because they are the 'portal' of choice and can leverage their IM, email etc to offer a complete user experience.
MSN hold an advantage over the other two because they are the browser and operating system of choice and can therefore control the user at a higher level than Goggle or Yahoo.
AOL have an advantage over all three because they are the ISP and the ISP can control the user experience through the browser, portal or search engine.

So what does Google do?
Build a portal to counter Yahoo
Build a browser and toolbar to counter MSN
Build and ISP to take our AOL and the rest of the ISPs

as I said it is all about controlling the user!


 11:40 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

GerBot has a good point.

From everything I know, Yahoo has the long term advantage with the package they have built. I know Google is the golden haired boy and I think they'll do well enough, but as an ad buyer you have got to be impressed the network Yahoo has built.

Still, I don't think you can control the user other than offering them the best value.


 12:20 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google could buy a toaster and speculation would run rampant that they are staging a takeover of the worlds bread supply, it's good fodder for wall street prognosticators but not much else.

Wimax will benefit those who actually own/create content (think Y!, Terry Semel) , that is what convergence is all about, an outlet for content, search has a role but it isn't the mother lode.


 2:38 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I understand all your posts but I would say that if anyone would do something news worthy and quite unique I would say Google has the upper hand in gaining eyeballs on the task.

I know from my past experience that something smells interesting here and I fully expect something newsworthy from this, something quite unexpected but yes it is speculation.

I'm just waiting for the day the news is out, the plan; I think it will be quite interesting. Stay tuned.



 2:45 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

At least its interesting to speculate as to the next greatest thing to come out of the internet especially where google is concerned..

We all come to expect a lot from the company partly because they are employing some of the smartest minds in the industry.. of course many of their models may fail, even those that fail will ultimately benefit us as the users.

I am not a huge google fan, because I think they are now too big of a corporation and may lose site of what is really important but they sure are innovative.



 4:54 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

wouldn't Google be subject to telecom regulations if it tried to do a "nationwide" wireless network?


 5:04 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry, but I have to quote Hollywood...

"Watch the average person type a text message in Holland and or Poland, they type using cell phone buttons faster than most secretaries on a type writer...

Has anyone watched anyone from Holland or Poland yet, and if so - was it good for you? ;)


 6:40 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

send2paul - ROTFLMAO - It is good for me if it's a tall blonde and the SMS is going to Hollywood's phone! (Smiling)... hickup.... Ehhhhhh

Hey, good thing both Poland and Holland have a really good transportation system... if not the driving and text typing would be a major issue... "Look no hands SMS"

Watch out over there when driving, if you see someone looking down for an overly extended period of time in your rearview (heading at you), pull over fast, they be SMS'n





 8:19 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wonder how much user data Google can accumulate through a high-traffic wi-fi hotspot.


 9:21 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ha - Hollywood - I once wrote a blog entry about children evolving with "Pointy Thumbs" - especially adpated for texting! :) Perhaps they'll evolve in Poland and Holland first?! :)


 11:47 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

this aint cheap either:

"...The 135-square-mile city (Philadelphia) is reviewing its final bids and puts cost estimates at $15 million to $18 million.

San Francisco's project has an estimated $10 million to $18 million price tag..."


 1:40 am on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

San Francisco's project has an estimated $10 million to $18 million price tag..."

Not cheap? To Google 10 million is chump change they could probably recover in big WIFI sponsorships alone.

If they opened free WIFI to America's top 100 cities at a cost of a few hundred million I think it would be brilliant. Might even wipe out AOL.

Many would rather view a few more ads than pony up for access.

I say "Go..oogle"


 3:44 am on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> To Google 10 million is chump change they could probably recover in big WIFI sponsorships alone.

that's one town. We don't know what that fee includes. All I know is that things needs to be maintained, upgraded, and someone needs to deal with grandma who decided to finally get online--now that's free.

Internet access is going the way of computers. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft made more money than Dell on the most popular /low end PCs. The difference here is that cable & telecom companies will jump in and crush Google if G ever went that route. They have the hundreds of $ billions worth of infrastructure, in addition to tons of content (movies, TV channels, radio etc.) and can do a lot more tie-ins.


 2:41 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

OK here is a very interesting thing: lets raise cash, hmm I think I just mentioned I expected something like this just yesterday... I wonder what they may use this for. I mean it is only over a few billion.

Bloomberg News:Google to Sell $4.2 Billion worth of Shares a Year After IPO (Update4)




 8:38 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Very good read, I wonder what they are wondering about? As far as what this offer of stock is for? (4 Billion)?

Hmmmmmm - Must be for something interesting, that is for sure. Hmmmmm


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