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Google offers Silicon Valley home free wireless Internet

Posted by inet - 2005-11-12

Internet giant Google is offering to cloak its home city in Silicon Valley with free wireless "Wi-Fi" computer service, the company confirmed.
Google's proposal to "unwire the city" will be considered by the Mountain View city council on Tuesday, according to Ellis Berns, manager of economic development in the town where Google has its headquarters.

"Right now, we can't see a downside," Berns told AFP. "It seems like a pretty positive deal for the city."

Berns said his staff studied Google's offer and will recommend it be accepted by city council members. If the deal is accepted, Google will turn all of Mountain View into an Internet "hot spot" by June 2006, Ellis said.

"Providing free Wi-Fi access in Mountain View is one way Google can support the citizens and businesses in the community where we are headquartered," said Chris Sacca of Google's new business development unit.

"This proposal is in the spirit of making the world's information easily and quickly accessible."

The offer to Mountain View follows one Google made two months ago to provide free wireless service to the entire city of San Francisco, just to the north. San Francisco is considering the bid, according to Sacca.

Mountain View, with a population of about 70,000 people -- about one-tenth that of San Francisco -- would be the first city to be converted to a free wireless Internet zone by Google, Berns said.

The city is home to an array of technology companies, including VeriSign and Veritas and a Microsoft computer campus, according to Berns.

Sacca indirectly denied online rumors that the company is interested in building a nationwide wireless Internet network.

"Google has no plans at this time to expand our Wi-Fi efforts beyond the Bay Area," he said.

Google's offer to Mountain View is in exchange for a five-year renewable lease permitting the company to mount its equipment on utility poles in the city, Berns said.

"It is kind of a test for Google," Berns said. "It gives them a chance to check it out, test the market, and it gives the city free wireless."

Under the terms of the deal, the basic wireless internet access would be free, but Google could charge users fees for premium services.

For its part, Mountain View can make similar deals with other companies interested in providing wireless services.

If Google decides to stop providing the service, the contract gives Mountain View the option of buying the system and running it themselves, Berns said.

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