According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Google is planning to spend more than $1 billion to expand internet access to unwired regions of the world with a fleet of satellites. According to “people familiar with the matter,” Google this time around is hoping that it can overcome financial and technical problems it has faced in the past with this goal.
Tom Wheeler — the Chairman of the FCC, the federal commission currently in the middle of a firestorm surrounding net neutrality — today praised Google for its checklist of requirements for cities to meet that are interested in working with Google to roll out fiber networking.
Google’s checklist includes various measures and decisions that help enable the company to quickly add their fiber services to a city or municipality. Wheeler specifically cites this as something that the FCC should look into, as it effectively cuts through red tape and speeds up deployment of faster service: Read more
Earlier this week, a job listing emerged regarding Google Fiber in New York City. This led many people to speculate that Google was working to launch its fiber network in the Big Apple. Fiber rollouts have been sparse so far, with the service only hitting a few markets, including Austin and Kansas City, so the idea of it launching in a city as massive as New York was certainly surprising. Although the company did recently announce a larger-scale rollout to nine new metro areas.
According to a new report from The Information, Google has been exploring the possibility of providing its own wireless network in cities where Fiber, its ultra high-speed broadband service, exists.
After thrusting itself into competition with U.S. cable operators, Google is inching closer to competing with wireless carriers, too.
Google executives in recent months discussed their hope to offer a full-fledged wireless service in markets where it offers Google Fiber Internet and TV service, according to two people who have discussed the matter with Google. Such an offering would mean Google customers in places like Kansas City, Mo. could get voice and Internet access through their mobile devices wherever they go.
While the report seems to be vague on specifics, it suggests that a potential Google-operated wireless provider could use WiFi access spots built on Google Fiber’s gigabit broadband and rely on another wireless provider in the area to provide service to cover the gaps. Read more
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.
Currently available in Kansas City, Kan., Google Fiber has proved to be a disruptive new service from the folks out of Mountain View. The service not only offers groundbreaking Internet speeds “100 times faster than broadband,” but also a radical new television service that offers content from a slew of sources: broadcast TV, cable, Netflix, and other Internet services. Google offers three plans: free Internet with a $300 construction fee, $70 per month for Gigabit Internet, and Gigabit + TV for $120 per month that includes a Nexus 7 to use as a remote control.
While we’ve seen brief encounters with the service, BTIG Research (via AllThingsD) has now given us a solid hands-on of the Google’s Fiber TV offering. The research group uses still shots to explain the features; but nonetheless, by the end of it, you’ll probably wish Google Fiber was available in your area. You can check out the video below to see the 905.28mbps down and 794.59mbps up speeds and how the Nexus 7 and TV interfaces work off each other.
Regarding the Google-Dish tie up that was reported last night, we just got word that this is really happening. While the details haven’t been finalized, Google is already deep into development on plans to roll out the service and have it live by mid-late 2013.
Google plans to make the service data-only with voice and SMS only being used as VoIP services, likely with Google Voice. Google of course already has its ISP feet on the ground with its Fiber rollout on the Stanford Campus and its just-opened Kansas City network.
Google is launching its Glass head gear next year and would benefit from total control of the network. Without full control, Google is seeing its Voice and Wallet services being blocked by carriers, specifically AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
Dish has previously said on numerous occasions that it would like to build a wireless network with the wireless spectrum it has acquired since 2008, but the company wants a partner to help fulfill this endeavor. As the Wall Street Journal noted in its report from yesterday, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said potential partners include companies that would like to be in the industry and currently don’t have a wireless sector.