If you want to know where Wi-Fi is going next, follow the fiber. Or the Google Fiber so it would seem. Google, which has famously rolled out fiber to three U.S. cities with plans for nine more, began testing outdoor public hotspots with free Wi-Fi service in the Crown Center shopping district in Kansas City, Missouri, last week
There are multiple signs of Wi-Fi interest at Google. In the middle of last year, Google committed to spending $600,000 to provide Wi-Fi to dozens of parks in San Francisco. Also, in mid-2013, Google knocked AT&T out and took over the Wi-Fi service at the nationwide Starbucks chain of coffee shops. Now, it has been reported that Google is approaching residents of 34 cities building interest in a plan to provide public Wi-Fi.
It has long been rumored that Google fancied getting into wireless. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google and DISH Network were discussing a partnership. Beyond partnering with DISH or LightSquared, the big ticket — and getting bigger as the FCC allocates more spectrum — for getting into wireless is Wi-Fi. And Google appears to be heading in that direction.
Ted Abrams, CTO, WiFi Wireless, said that public spectrum is the key to meeting the growing wireless communications demands of users. Currently, the big four carriers have access to less than 600 megahertz of spectrum, while we have more than 700 megahertz of public spectrum in the United States.
“We cannot continue to limit wireless networks to private spectrum,” Abrams said. “The only way to solve the problem is to incorporate public spectrum in combination with private spectrum.”
Both Google, with Google Hangout group video calls, and Facebook, which purchased WhatsApp, the cross-platform mobile messaging app, are providing the platforms for Wi-Fi First wireless networks.
“Google is building the ecosystem that represents a very solid foundation for long and positive growth in Wi-Fi First services,” Abrams said.