Google makes more WiFi promises


As Google announces that it will be providing free WiFi internet access in San Francisco's parks, Google's Mountain View WiFi network remains dogged by problems that the company promised to fix in February. According to Google, some kind of change really is in the works for Mountain View's system and it may be announced "shortly."

In 2009 and again in February, Google acknowledged that the network of over 500 streetlight-mounted nodes in Mountain View was in need of a major upgrade. Complaints poured into the Voice and the Google WiFi users forum about longtime outages in certain neighborhoods, corrupted data and slow connections that often rendered the network useless for residents, problems that users say became more pronounced in December of 2012.

In February, Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres told the Voice, "We are working on a plan to add more bandwidth and make connections easier. We're committed to it. We're working on all sorts of upgrades. We want our users to be able to enjoy all the rich content that's available online."

Five months later Google has yet to report any changes, and some residents are agitated.

"Google's position on nation-wide free WiFi is not credible when they can't even run it in their own small home city," wrote resident Stefan Strommer in an email.

According to Google, city officials are involved in discussions about the fate of the Google Wifi.

"We understand that there are challenges with our free WiFi network in Mountain View," Google spokeswoman Katelin Jabbari said in an email to the Voice. "The network was created over seven years ago and wasn't built to support the current usage. We are researching options regarding the future of our WiFi network in Mountain View and have reached out to discuss these options with city of Mountain View staff. We hope to have additional information available to share with our users shortly."

The backbone of the system installed in 2006 has apparently reached its bandwidth capacity as use of the network has grown, with 25,000 users of the network every month over the last year, up from 19,000 in 2009. Typical users are requiring more bandwidth to download files and stream video on sites like Hulu and Netflix.

In San Francisco, the city has agreed to take on the cost of maintaining the network after two years. It will be available in 31 parks in San Francisco by next spring.

Whether the city could take on the network's future maintenance remains to be seen. Mayor John Inks and City Manager Dan Rich did not respond to requests for comment by the Voice's press deadline Wednesday.

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3 people like this
Posted by David Speakman
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 11:50 am

Google "free WiFi" is such a joke.

3 people like this
Posted by Adam Smith
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm

You get what you pay for though it looks like you can still complain that you didnt get more.

3 people like this
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

While I can see the whole "you get what you pay for" argument I will counter with this.

We are paying for this. Google gets to use tax payer funded utility poles throughout our city to put up their hardware.

Google requires every user of their "free" service to create a Google account. There's a value to that even if it's not a directly payment from the user. Google get to charge for ads based on how many accounts it has. So Google isn't getting nothing from all of this.

So if the deal with us, the people of Mountain View, was to provide wifi internet access in exchange for letting Google use our utility poles then we have every right to complain when the deal isn't being kept by Google.

A few years ago I could use Google wifi. These days it rarely shows up on my phone and when it goes it doesn't work.

If Google doesn't want to keep their end of the deal then they can take their hardware and be done with it.

Otherwise our city administrators need to hold Google accountable.

When people I work with hear I live in Mountain View I frequently get asked "Oh, you get free Internet from Google!"

I then explain to them what free actually gets you in life.

3 people like this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Moreover, Google's deal with the city included providing WiFi service at the Mountain View Public Library. Google has not kept their end of the deal: the WiFi network there is frequently nowhere to be seen.

Like Otto, I lost anything resembling useful connectivity several years ago. I can stand directly underneath WiFi node mounted on a city streetlight and not be able to log onto Google WiFi. This happens everywhere, even on downtown Castro Street where one would expect them to prioritize service.

Google has made empty promises to improve the system before, and yet the end result has been zero action. My optimism about Google WiFi is fading.

3 people like this
Posted by gcoladon
a resident of Slater
on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

There is a node right outside the front windows of my house, and for the last couple of years I have barely ever been able to connect, let alone load a webpage.

3 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:37 pm

There is a node 2-3 houses down from me across the street. I use it occasionally for backup access. Always works but is sometimes slow.

3 people like this
Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Waldo is a registered user.

Google WiFi doesn't work, nor does Google's VPN solution for security. The city of Mountain View should ask Google to remove their equipment from the city's light poles, and let Google deal with the negative publicity.

3 people like this
Posted by KJ
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I can stand directly under one of these poles and cannot get email to download even though my iPhone4 says I'm connected.

Same experience with other pole locations in Mtn View. It shows I'm connected to GoogleWiFi but cannot get email or access any web page !

I agree with 'Posted by Waldo' comment above.

3 people like this
Posted by mom
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 25, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Google Wifi is useless. I agree with "you get what you pay for" and that the service shouldn't be relied upon, but Google shouldn't get free PR for something that they aren't really providing.

3 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 25, 2013 at 4:21 pm

All we have is google wifi and it' works 50% of the time.
Although the yahoo email act. never works at all.
It's useless.

3 people like this
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm

When Google WiFi was introduced in Mountain View, I gave it a try. Even with the recommended $100 box sitting in our front window, access was only a sometime thing. After a few days of that, I took my $100 box back for a refund and stopped trying to use Google WiFi.

3 people like this
Posted by Alex Z
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I used to LOVE the way it worked, because I use one of those building to building wifi antennas, via a hawkings usb wifi receiver with the antenna removed, so I could almost playvideo games online via my PS3! But yeah, around 2012, it all went downhill. My computer had to be reset, because pretty soon after, all my automatic windows update downloads ende up corrupted, and one of those corrupted updates was JUST good eough to install itself on my computer, causing major havock!

3 people like this
Posted by Jake
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 26, 2013 at 7:13 am

I use and EnGenius usb wifi receiver and get excellent reception in some areas and very weak reception in others. Using a wifi receiver with a replaceable antenna allows better reception when using an antenna with a large dBi value.

Since it is free, I have no real complaints. If I need to download a large file, such as a Windows "service pack", I can always find a wifi hotspot at some local business.

3 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 26, 2013 at 7:35 am

Got AT&T DSL when it was brand new. Didn't work worth beans. Routinely screwed up or Was out all together. That absurdity went on for years before things started working sort of reliably. The big difference is that I paid AT&T regularly while they worked out the bugs. Dumped AT&T U-CURSE recently for Sonic Net which is cheaper and works better. Its reasonable to imagine something else coming along soon to replace the current technology. It's also reasonable that unlike the AT&Ts of the world Google has a genuine interest in improving the societal and ecological Nature of our valley and planet. Anyway, free stuff tends to evoke enjoyably contorted complaints.

3 people like this
Posted by tommy_g_
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 27, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Google WiFii ? Whats that

maybe they should spend some money on its products rather than making sure all their employees have 3 square meals a day....they getting fat and lazy.....they spend too much money on buying buildings up in mtn view and watching companies leave mtn view, and they cant support wifii in mtn view.....hahahahaha they are a joke.........

3 people like this
Posted by Sean
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 29, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Wow, I thought it was just me- i'm by no means the most tech person that being said I have tried on numerous occasions to connect and never once succeeded. I like what Jay Park said "I can stand directly underneath WiFi node mounted on a city streetlight and not be able to log onto Google WiFi." I have done this with same results.

Why is Google talking about wifi in San Francisco when they can't even get Mountain Views to work? Seriously, they should announce they are bringing it to Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Jose it's just words. WTF

3 people like this
Posted by Shanti Karuna
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2013 at 4:29 pm

It could perhaps be just a silly rumor,
But if you are not a baby boomer,
The promise of WiFi in every park,
Is only for those up with the lark –
To enjoy it you need a sense of humor.

3 people like this
Posted by Sean
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Is that a haiku or something bro? Cause its over my head and make little sense.

3 people like this
Posted by Dianne
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm

It would be nice if Google provided useful free wifi. But that is not the case. Google free wifi is not working in my neighborhood.

3 people like this
Posted by Spike
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2013 at 1:48 am

I live on San Antonio Circle. There's a node 2 windows down. I've been using Google Wifi from the beginning. The free Wifi system benefits the poor and the whole community. Some of us can't afford to pay for service. Unfortunately, Google Wifi has been down for some time. I think that the people who are saying that you get what you pay for must be pretty well off because they can afford to pay for their services. They don't realize how important this free service was to the community and would be again if it was truly available. I am truly sad that Google Wifi has disappeared. Don't get rid of it! Replace it! Rebuild it! My services have been a very kind donation since Google Wifi's service disappeared.

3 people like this
Posted by disappointed
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Google should fix MV WiFi first. I haven't been able to get on from any location for 2 years.

3 people like this
Posted by jxramos
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 30, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I second what everybody is saying above, GoogleWifi has been corrupted for months. You cannot download 1MB without corruption. We eek on by with gmail being browsed in basic html mode (ie no fancy flash stuff). We also get by using mobile versions of websites, the whole convention you often see websites maintaining. Hopefully Google follows through with their promises and comes up with a fantastic design to handle all that rich content for as many users as they find logging into the system.

3 people like this
Posted by rolo8ab
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm

rolo8ab is a registered user.

Lets toilet paper their trees !
not sent from my Ipad

3 people like this
Posted by rolo8ab
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm

rolo8ab is a registered user.

I simply have STOPPED using Google...........
If their name is attached to somthing I won't use it....

3 people like this
Posted by sophiemutterfan
a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm

The way Google makes statement, is like we, people of Mountain View, all enjoy free Wifi provided by Google. But the truth is no such thing available to us. They should not declare anything untrue and get credit for. And it is regarded as LYING.

3 people like this
Posted by GGrouse
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm

My problem is that it's gotten feasible for municipalities to run free wifi networks, but places like MV are much less inclined to embark on such a project (or explore other options) if they've already been "given" free wifi by google. We end up with crap wifi and little momentum to build new options.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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