The gifts from Google just keep coming this month. Last week it was the restoration of Moffett Field's landmark Hangar One. This week it's ultra-fast Internet infrastructure and a free wireless internet system that actually works -- but for downtown only.
Google and Mountain View's city manager Dan Rich jointly announced this morning a big plan for better Internet connectivity in Mountain View, including the "possibility" of installing thousands of miles of new fiber-optic cables under the city's streets to allow data to travel at the speed of light. The 1 gigabit speed Google is offering (1,024 megabits per second) is "100 times faster" than what most people enjoy and enough to download an entire movie in under two minutes.
The plan would also mean that Google's problematic city-wide WiFi system installed in 2006 would finally be shut down after numerous complaints about its unreliability and slow speed in recent years. It would be replaced with new technology that would cover the downtown corridor only.
Google is offering the city a $500,000 grant to fund technology accessible to the public, perhaps compensating for the cost of the WiFi the city had recently installed in City Hall and the library to replace the old Google WiFi system. The city's own WiFi is also planned for the Senior Center, Community Center and Teen Center.
The City Council is set to vote on whether to accept the $500,000 grant and approve the new WiFi network on Feb. 25. Residents will get a 60-day notice before the old Google WiFi network is shut down.
"We need to provide the tools of success for every one of our residents in this connected world," said Mayor Chris Clark in a statement. "With this connectivity plan, we have the opportunity to make a significant leap forward by upgrading the WiFi in key areas of Mountain View. By using Google's generous grant offer to improve connectivity and access to technology, this city is demonstrating readiness for innovative services like Google Fiber."
Mountain View is one of 34 cities nationwide that could get a new fiber network soon, Google announced Feb. 19. Locally, those cities include San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and Palo Alto.