After a brief announcement back in June that it had partnered with Starbucks to offer free, unlimited music through its new Google Play All Access streaming service, Google today announced that it will soon be supplying WiFi to all Starbucks locations in the US. That also includes its new gigabit Google Fiber internet service where available:
When your local Starbucks WiFi network goes Google, you’ll be able to surf the web at speeds up to 10x faster than before. If you’re in a Google Fiber city, we’re hoping to get you a connection that’s up to 100x faster.
Up until now, AT&T provided free Wifi access to Starbucks customers in the US (and T-Mobile before that), but it appears that will no longer be the case following the roll out of Google’s networks in the coming weeks.
Google plans to start rolling out its new Starbucks networks next month and hopes to have all 7,000 US locations up and running on its networks within 18 months. Google noted, “You’ll know your new network is ready to go when you can log in to the “Google Starbucks” SSID.” Read more
As much as people wish it would change, Google Fiber is only available to a select group of cities, which means that the rest of us are stuck with other alternatives, like Verizon FiOS. Today, Verizon has announced its fastest tier of FiOS to date, but it’s still not as fast, or cheap, as Google’s offerings. Dubbed Quantum, the plan offers theoretical download speeds of 500Mbps and 100Mbps uploads. For comparison’s sake, Google Fiber offers one gigabit both up and down.
Where Verizon’s offerings really differ, however, are in price. FiOS Quantum requires that you have a “double play” package, which starts at a whopping $309.99 a month. For a “triple play” bundle, which in includes phone service, the price jumps to $329.99. Both those packages also require a two-year contract. Google Fiber, on the other hand, costs $70 a month for just internet, and $120 for internet and TV.
The 500Mbps/100Mbps plans are available ”in parts” of every existing FiOS market, with Verizon looking to bring it to more places soon. Read more
Google is one of the consortium members behind a new 28Tbps undersea fiber link connecting China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei with Japan – where it connects to the existing transpacific fiber to the U.S. The total length of the link is 5,530 miles.
The six fiber pairs have a combined capacity equivalent to simultaneously streaming three million HD videos. That’s quite a lot of bandwidth.
While most of the investors are local telecoms companies - China Telecom, China Mobile, Hong Kong’s Donghwa Telecom, Globe in the Philippines, SingTel, and TOT in Thailand – Google has its own reasons for wanting the link … Read more
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Google is now in the middle of a new project that will see the company develop wireless networks in emerging countries including sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Google plans on teaming up with local companies to develop the wireless networks, which are said to use airwaves normally reserved for TV, but will first have to get government approvals:
Some of those efforts revolve around using certain airwaves reserved for TV broadcasts to create wireless networks, but only if government regulators allowed it, these people said. Google has long been involved in public trials to prove the technology—which operates at lower frequencies than some cell networks, allowing signals to be more easily transmitted through buildings and other obstacles and across longer distances—can work. And it has begun talking to regulators in countries such as South Africa and Kenya about changing current rules to allow such networks to be built en masse.
The report mentions that Google is also “building an ecosystem of new microprocessors and low-cost smartphones powered by its Android mobile operating system to connect to the wireless networks,” although it didn’t offer up any other specific information on the devices.
It also points out a Google X project that takes advantage of “special balloons or blimps, known as high-altitude platforms, to transmit signals to an area of hundreds of square miles,” but it’s unclear whether or not the two projects are connected. Read more
Update 1: Hmm. Despite a press release on PR Web this morning, AllThingsD just reported that Google did not buy ICOA Wireless:
We have yet to hear from a Google rep on the record. But people within the company say that contrary to a press release posted on PR Web, Google has not bought ICOA, a Rhode Island-based player in public Wi-Fi Networks. Shares of ICOA, which are traded on the OTC “pink sheets”, are up sharply this morning.
PR Web also took down the press release. The old link now redirects to the website’s Recent News page.
Update 2: The Wall Street Journal just contacted two ICOA executives who then commented on the matter:
Erwin Vahlsing, Jr., ICOA’s chief financial officer, said in an email that an online press release claiming Google had acquired ICOA for $400 million “is false.”
In a separate email, George Strouthopoulos, ICOA’s chief executive, said the company “never had any discussions with any potential acquirers.” He said ICOA will report the incident “to the proper authorities.”
Google just announced that it bought Wi-Fi provider ICOA for $400 million, while noting the buyout continues to diversify its “portfolio of companies,” according to a press release from PR Web.
In regards to ICOA, Google called it “a provider of Wi-Fi to high traffic public locations,” and it further said, “ICOA is a leading vertically integrated, neutral-host broadband wireless Internet network provider.”
ICOA essentially powers high-traffic places like airports and restaurants, and its network supports 802.11x technology and plays nice with most Internet service providers. Oh, the Wi-Fi provider is also a partner with Boingo. Interestingly, Google worked with Boingo earlier this year to provide the same hotspot solution to other high-traffic locations across America.
Google’s venture into the wireless space is further interesting when you take into account its Google Fiber Project in Kansas and recent rumors that it’s partnering with Dish Network to launch a wireless service.
We contacted Google for a comment and will update when more information is available.
Check out the full press release below.