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More on Google's Mountain View WiFi proposal

As we noted earlier, Google wants to deploy free WiFi in its home town of Mountain View, and it'll go before the city council next week to discuss its plans. Below is a link to a copy of the staff report that's going to the city council (the city staff is endorsing the proposal), along with an attached letter from Google. Note the unusual candor with which Google explains its motives.

"In our self-interest, we believe that giving more people the ability to access the Internet will drive more traffic to Google and hence more revenue to Google and its partner websites.''

Download file (494 kb PDF file)

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Privacy Issues 300 wifi units will enable google to find your address and track you as you move to different locations. What info will google be collecting ????

gary on November 11, 2005 9:46 AM
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What I'd like to see someone explain is why San Jose is planning to spend $100k down and $60k a year to put WiFi into a small part of downtown when Google is offering to put WiFi in whole cities for free.

You'd think the "Capital of Silicon Valley" would be at the front of the line for free citywide WiFi.

Michael Mace on November 11, 2005 1:30 PM
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If you think this is insightful, please promote my blog http://www.webnetic.net

I love tech and wifi and google.

You will see nothing below about LBS (Location Based Services)

What•À¸s the rush? Most people have internet at home, at work and on their cell if they like, Let•À¸s try to get this right before we grant a monopoly in the way the Automobile interests purchased all the street cars/routes and removed them •À¸ not to the long term benefit of our society.

But a couple of questions here:

1) Why does the last page (the photo page) in the Mountain View PDF you reference say page 13? When there are only 8 pages in the PDF? What was not scanned in? This is a big infrastructure issue, shouldn't the public see all of the proposal beforehand? There are a lot of smart people in the Valley that can provide seasoned input.

2) Where's the name of the vendor they plan to use? rumors of Tropos which is different than the San Francisco RFI which is WFI - huh why?

3) Where's the Service Level Agreement? - people are going to be pissed if they drop their wired internet and then this fails.

I've been following the San Francisco Techconnect Initiative (there is a big fight going on see my blog http://www.webnetic.net ) and I haven•À¸t seen these issues broadly discussed:

If a city designates a wifi provider as the official carrier, it gives that carrier somewhat of an official Yellow Pages designation (called branding in banking). Now with Google adding Click to Dial & VOIP abilities, suddenly a good amount of the local display advertising in the Local Yellow Pages and Local Newspapers is no longer relevant because any Merchant (even all the local ones who don't bother with websites) would be happy to pay for any call they receive from an interested customer - rather than a display ad that has difficult to measure results (the old saw "Half my advertising budget is wasted, I just don't know which Half"). If you are a local merchant you will buy your ads with the official city isp because that is the one most people will use by default. Recall the huge fight Microsoft had to control the Desktop?

Search engines are wonderful, but they are not doing this free wifi stuff stupidly Gates was recently quoted as saying in the future Search providers will pay people to surf.

Fine business models change. But now the local advertising dollars funding local news coverage is significantly reduced..

And more interestingly: Are local unique merchants given priority listings over big box nationwide chains in search results? Large companies can probably pay more for referrals. John Battelle has discussed the strange listing algorithms for search engines•À¸

Maybe local governments should think about ways to promote or a least level the playing field for their valued merchants (Deli's, Auto Repair etc may never bother with websites)? Otherwise there may be even more "Malling of America.". Ok Google is going to really really hate me for saying this, but maybe something like top five listings go to locally owned businesses otherwise Google can•À¸t use the city light poles.

And isn't this the perfect time to make vendors roll out wireless solutions that are disaster proof? And if it is disaster proof then let•À¸s save everyone a lot of money and confusion and cancel all the contracts for private Public Safety networks on special bands. We only use one kind of electricity, one kind of water Remember the Internet was designed initially to survive a Nuclear Disaster.

And wifi and search engine vendors need to solve the very difficult privacy and anonymity issues. One person can•À¸t very well fight large search engine firms terms of service

But governments can.

Kimo Crossman on November 14, 2005 1:43 AM
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Free Wi-Fi won't work. They need to go the route of Earthlink and MobilePro who are charging an end price. MobilePro is opening up their networks (they won Sacramento, CA, Tempe, AZ, Chandler, AZ and Farmers Branch, TX) to other service providers which means "competition" in the service department.

Bobby on November 21, 2005 1:46 PM
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We have been pushing the idea of using colleges (especially urban and suburban) as anchors for broadband wireless deployments for some time. These institutions have a built in audience (students, faculty, staff), are a lot more tech savvy than most cities. Plus, they are hungry for the technology. We have a deployed at 4 small colleges and have idetified dozens of schools ready to work with us. Google would be the ideal partner to come in as a sponsor for these deployments to close the funding gap. Thoughts on this, anyone?

Thomas Muleta on November 21, 2005 3:28 PM
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shiet, bring some of that to Colorado. We need some free wi-fi up in this mug

bonbon on March 2, 2006 10:09 PM
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When will Google unwire MY street? I live near SHoreline & El Camino in Mtn. View, CA.

The Senator on March 4, 2006 7:46 AM
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Does anyone know whnen the Wi-Fi will take effect? I am moving to Mountain View this week and want to know if I need to purchase a Comcast Cable Modem or just a Wi-Fi card.

Arod on June 25, 2006 9:21 PM
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