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November 10, 2005

Google will provide free WiFi in Mountain View

Google has offered to bring free wireless Internet, or WiFi, connections to Mountain View, the city of its corporate headquarters.

The offer comes about two months after the company offered to do the same for the city of San Francisco.

``This proposal is in the same spirit of making the world's information easily and quickly accessible as our recent San Francisco WiFi bid and is technically comparable to that initiative,'' Google said in a statement released Wednesday. ``Google has no plans at this time to expand our WiFi efforts beyond the Bay Area.''

Google officials approached Mountain View leaders a few weeks ago and offered to hoist 300 transmitters onto the city's 3,000 telephone poles and street lights, according to Mountain View Mayor Matt Neely. Neely said the company could install what he described as softball-sized devices that would transform the whole city into a so-called hotspot.

``It's pretty amazing,'' Neely said. ``What better place than Google's hometown and what better place than Mountain View to have the whole city connected on WiFi?''

WiFi service could be installed as early as the first few months of 2006, Neely said. ``Google -- they move,'' he said. ``This will be happening in the very near future.''

Mountain View, a mid-Peninsula city of 12 square miles and about 72,000 residents, is also home to the NASA/Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, where Google is building a research complex. There, it will collaborate with the space agency scientists.

If Google's proposal for Mountain View mirrors its suggestions for San Francisco, it could likely entail installation of a network of transmitters that would parlay data, via invisible radio waves, back and forth between people's computers and the Internet.

Mountain View is expected to make the Google proposal public today in advance of the Tuesday city council meeting where it will be discussed. Unlike in San Francisco, Mountain View city leaders have not launched a formal call for companies to compete to bring affordable wireless Internet connections to the city.