Google mulling Wi-Fi for cities with Google Fiber

Cities getting gigabit-speed fiber Internet could also gain Wi-Fi networks

Google is considering deploying Wi-Fi networks in towns and cities covered by its Google Fiber high-speed Internet service.

The disclosure is made in a document Google is circulating to 34 cities that are the next candidates to receive Google Fiber in 2015.

Specific details of the Wi-Fi plan are not included in the document, which was seen by IDG News Service, but Google says it will be "discussing our Wi-Fi plans and related requirements with your city as we move forward with your city during this planning process."

If the plan goes ahead, it would be a further step by Google toward competition with traditional telecom carriers. For citizens of the cities involved, it could mean increased reliance on services by the dominant Internet company.

Google declined to answer specific questions about the plans but in an emailed statement said, "We'd love to be able to bring Wi-Fi access to all of our Fiber cities, but we don't have any specific plans to announce right now."

Google Fiber is already available in Provo, Utah, and Kansas City, and is promised soon in Austin, Texas. It delivers a "basic speed" service for no charge, a gigabit-per-second service for US$70 per month and a $120 package that includes a bundle of more than 200 TV channels. Installation costs between nothing and $300.

Google has sent the 34 cities that are next in line for Google Fiber a detailed request for information and they have until May 1 to reply.

It asks for a list of all the addresses in each city and a description of building types, and requests numerous geospatial data files containing information on streets, boundaries, rights of way, manholes, utility poles, zoning types and the condition of pavement across the city.

Google is also asking cities to identify locations it would be able to install utility huts. Each 12-foot-by-30-foot (3.6-meter-by-9.1-meter) windowless hut needs to allow 24-hour access and be on land Google could lease for about 20 years.

The huts, of which there will be between one and a handful in each city, would house the main networking equipment. From the hut, fiber cables would run along utility poles -- or in underground fiber ducts if they exist -- and terminate at neighborhood boxes, each serving up to 288 or 587 homes.

The neighborhood boxes are around the same size or smaller than current utility cabinets often found on city streets.

Once each municipality has sent the information to Google, the Mountain View company said it will conduct a detailed study.

"This process will take some time, but we hope to have updates on which cities will get Fiber by the end of the year," the company says in the document.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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