The carefully negotiated agreement between Google Inc. and the city of Austin covers more than just the ultra-high-speed Google Fiber network that the Internet giant unveiled April 9. It also talks in detail about a wireless Wi-Fi network Google plans to build that would be closely linked to its fiber-based broadband network. That was made clear in two Google-related agreements negotiated by the city. The documents were released to the American-Statesman this week as part of an open records request. The agreements carry strong hints that Google plans to build a significant Wi-Fi network that would cover parts of the city and extend the reach of its broadband project in Austin to include mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptop computers. Google is offering only the sketchiest glimpse of its plans, but a city of Austin official confirmed that the Internet giant envisions a free Wi-Fi service open to all users that would cover certain parts of the city.
“We hope to set up Google Fiber Wi-Fi hot spots in the future, but we don’t have anything to announce right now,” said Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres. Google’s wireless plans include all three urban areas it has announced for Google Fiber so far, Austin, Kansas City and Provo, Utah. Google also said Friday that it will bring its Google Fiber service to the Kansas City suburb of Shawnee, Kan.
The company’s agreement with Kansas City also covers agreements for setting up Wi-Fi networking equipment on city and utility property and rights of way. Industry analysts say setting up a Wi-Fi network makes sense because it extends the reach of the Google Fiber network to the fastest-growing group of Internet users, those with mobile devices.
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