Google gives $800,000 for downtown WiFi

Plans for a citywide fiber-optic network may be on hiatus, but Google is looking into other ways to grow internet access in Mountain View. The search-engine giant is cutting the city an $800,000 check to expand free public WiFi through the downtown area.

The tech giant has a checkered history with attempting to expand internet access to its hometown. Back in 2006, the company launched its own Google WiFi system, a network of about 560 light pole-mounted nodes providing free hookups to households throughout the city. Users initially found the service dazzling, but later disappointing. About five years in, complaints began mounting that the WiFi was unbearably slow and unpredictable, and prone to complete service blackouts.

In 2014, Google decided to scuttle the system. The company gave Mountain View a $500,000 technology grant to fund a third-party company to take over the wireless hubs downtown. At the time, the setup was portrayed as temporary since the company was beginning talks to bring its much-faster Google Fiber service to Mountain View.

Fast forward to 2016 and not much has changed. In May, Google officials signed an agreement with Mountain View and other South Bay cities to install the fiber-optic service, but there's been no action since then. In October, the company announced it was hitting the brakes on its plans to bring Google Fiber to most cities.

Mountain View officials say the new $800,000 check from Google will be used to expand the existing downtown WiFi system. Roger Jensen, Mountain View's information-technology director, said the city will work with a contractor to add about 40 new wireless hubs downtown to provide exclusive bandwidth for the city. The new expanded service area will go along Castro Street, from El Camino Real to Evelyn Avenue.

Google officials did not return calls for this story, but a spokesman noted in an email that Mountain View is the only city receiving this grant money.


1 person likes this
Posted by d man
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 4, 2017 at 2:42 pm

We are poor but proud people thank you google for the gift oh great google.

1 person likes this
Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 4, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Waldo is a registered user.

$800,000/40=$20,000. That's some really expensive wireless hubs. Instead of just covering Castro street, how about the Caltrain platform? How about El Camino Real, especially around developed areas, like San Antonio, El Monte, etc.?

6 people like this
Posted by Mt. View Neighbor
a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 4, 2017 at 4:00 pm

At this point, I'm hesitant to take any sort of "gift" from Google. Sorry Google, not all of Mountain View is for sale.

1 person likes this
Posted by Sukwinder Dixit
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 5, 2017 at 7:08 am

Mr. Eric of the Google is a very generous man. We should be appreciate of his kindness for the needful

Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2017 at 6:54 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

Speaking as an IT Security expert. credentialled, I would never use a public wifi for anything.

I have questions regarding the $800.000. I do not think that WIFI devices costs that much, the most they cost is $2,300. THe power cost is 13W per device, if you calculate 13 * 40 devices *24 hours * 365.25 days = 4,558,320 watts. The Cost for electricity is .12 per KwH. so 4,558,320/1000 = 4,558.32 * .12= $547.00 for a year for 40 repeaters. I can estimate that it may take 2 hours to install the devices and I will estimate $100. hr per installation which comes to 40*2*100= $8,000. I cannot see that the laying of any new cabling will cost more that $150,000.

$150,000 + (40*$2300.00) + $600 + $8,000= $250,600. so that accounts for 31% of the $800,000, where is the additional $450,000 going, into the City of Mountain View revenue?

This is just a PR ploy to distract the fact that Google is under routine review for labor practices that could be questionable.

As one trained in Human Resources, this appears to be an attempt to prevent statistical analysis that could indicate disparate impact in employment at Google.

But the real problem is that disparate impact only means that there was NO intent to discriminate. It can occur nonetheless but it may NOT be by design.

But Google attempting to withhold the information is a violation of the OFCCP compliance rules and shows that the issue could actually consist of disparate treatment.

This kind of discrimination IS by design and INTENDED to discriminate.

Or at the very least, Google INTENDS to withhold potential evidence of Disparate Impact, which changes the classification from impact to treatment.

Given that this information is readily available to Google, the OFCCP regulations are clear, Google IS a FEDERAL CONTRACTOR UNDER THE LAW, this decision seems to be a very poor one. I wonder if this decision will impact on the plans of Google with regards to consideration with the City of Mountain View.

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