Posted March 24, 2008 4:29 pm by with 19 comments

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Free, nationwide WiFi. Drooling yet, or do I need to say it again? Free, nationwide WiFi from Google. As we mentioned earlier, Google is lobbying the FCC for some of the wireless spectrum that will be freed next year when television will cease analog transmission. Google’s plan? “Wi-Fi on steroids.” (Without the ‘roid rage, I’m guessing.)

Late Friday, Google submitted a six-page letter to the FCC outlining processes and tests to avoid interference on the frequencies in question. Google also promised to reserve some frequencies not for wireless Internet and provide free tech support for people using their Wi-Fi. Presumably, this would dovetail well with Android-enabled handsets, due out later this year.

This year’s wireless spectrum auction sold license to frequencies formerly occupied by UHF transmissions (ultra high frequency; no, it’s not just a Weird Al film) television channels 52-69. The ultra high and very high frequencies used by television channels 2 through 51 will no longer be used after February 17, 2009. Google planned to deliver sometime in Q4 2009.

If Google succeeds in convincing the FCC to sign on, however, there will be some major concerns with free Google WiFi, and rightfully so. Aaron Wall points out that as an ISP, Google will have access to massive amounts of user data that they could use to influence SERPs (and just wait until the privacy watchdogs get ahold of this). And if they did provide wireless for free, many people would probably be willing to part with this information in exchange for Internet access, which was probably costing them anywhere from $10 to $100 a month.

There are also some concerns over the wireless network itself: would connections be secure enough? Would they be fast enough to make it worth the while of heavy Internet users? Would anyone but the bandwidth-usingest Internet users care if their connections were slower, but free?

  • Wouldn’t allowing free internet access to everyone in the US also increase overall Google traffic/use? Couldn’t this easily be a prime objective for them?

  • How cynical Jaan! Surely Google has no intention of making any money from this plan. It’s purely an act of charity, I’m sure. – heh 😉

  • I’d use that. It’d be so useful to check your email on the go. That is one HUGE plan though – trust Google to provide it.

  • Prashant

    Is google wifi service is running in india

  • Just a matter of time before they rule the world. Knowledge is power, they say… user trends and information is knowledge, I believe.

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  • I think Google has chosen wrong technology for this. Much better choice would be HSPA.

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  • Free, but only until you see the hidden costs.

    I’d certainly be happy to not pay for my internet connection, but I’m not sure I want to give Google any more information about me than they already have.

  • Its about time that we could connect from anywhere anytime.

    I dont give a toss about what data Google collects about me, to be honest if they can suss out my preferences and show me relevant stuff, good on them, its better than being constantly asked if I want to enlarge my p****

  • Google is looking (and planning) much farther down the road than most can imagine. This is no surprise.

  • Jim

    Be a nice trick if they can manage to convince the FCC to let them use spectrum that didn’t get sold in the auctions that ended this month. Oh! Wait… wasn’t it Google that said they would pony up 4.6 Billion clams for spectrum in the 700 MHz band if the FCC mandated open access requirements on the C block spectrum? Wasn’t it Google that didn’t spend a dime during the auction? Didn’t AT&T and Verizon cough up $13 Billion between them to lock up the C band (Verizon) and the rest of the B band (AT&T)? That was a nice trick! Wave a pile of cash around, get what you want and then don’t spend a dime! It’ll be icing on the Googleplex’s celebratory cake if the FCC accepts the idea that the best use of the unauctioned D band in 700 MHz is to let Google build a nationwide WiFi network on it. Note that this was earmarked as a nation wide public safety band, but no one wanted to spend over $1.6 billion dollars to “buy” spectrum that they wouldn’t control. (Just imagine having every police/fire chief in the nation as a controlling partner in your business!). Anyway, Google has the $4.6 Billion they didn’t spend burning a hole in their pocket and that’ll buy a bunch of access points and ethernet backhaul. It’ll be interesting to see if the FCC takes the bait again.

  • It would be kind of cool to take your laptop anywhere. Giving up info is a somewhat fair trade, we don’t expect something for nothing do we?

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  • Jordan McCollum

    @Jim—as I mentioned in the article, this spectrum isn’t part of the auction that just ended. This spectrum here ranges from 55.25MHz to 698MHz (not all inclusive, either—this is shared with everything from radio waves to remote control devices). This isn’t about the D block (758–763 and 788–793 MHz), which may not have sold because of “other” reasons ( ).

  • People will love it. And most people won’t care about the privacy issues.

  • The early bird wins. Before someone else comes up with this idea let me(Google)do it.

    Vanessa @ Future Trends in Wireless – Predictions, Applications and Challenges

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