Mountain View Voice

News - February 21, 2014

Google offers MV better Internet access

New WiFi downtown; fiber-optic cable is possible

by Daniel DeBolt

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 City Manager Dan Rich jointly announced Wednesday 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 fast 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. Work on the new WiFi system is expected to begin "immediately." Residents will get a 60-day notice before the old Google WiFi network is shut down, and the new WiFi network is expected to be up and running in "a few months," said Mayor Chris Clark.

"The possibility of bringing fiber to Mountain View longer term, it's a pretty exciting day, for me anyway," Clark said. With a WiFi fix, the grant money, and a Google fiber network the city applied for a few years ago, it is "the ultimate comprehensive package we were really hoping for."

"We need to provide the tools of success for every one of our residents in this connected world," Clark said 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."

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.

Google's CFO Patrick Pichette has said that Google fiber is "not a hobby" for Google ."We really think we should be making a good business with this opportunity," he said.

Where it is initially being rolled out in Provo, Utah and Kansas City, the 1 gigabit per second speed costs $70 a month. A slower version more on par with average speeds these days is free, but a one-time "construction fee" is as high as $300.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Jes' Sayin', a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 20, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Unless the contract includes some guarantees that they're not playing around and planning to just leave things high and dry the way they did with the first Wi-Fi, this seems a shortsighted idea.


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