http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2011/02/25/council-extends-free-google-wifi-deal


Mountain View Voice

News - February 25, 2011

Council extends free Google WiFi deal

Google adds an escape clause to five-year contract for city-wide WiFi

by Daniel DeBolt

Mountain View's residents may enjoy free Google WiFi for another five years, thanks to an agreement the City Council quietly approved Tuesday. However, Google wants to be able to abandon the system under certain circumstances.

"Google would be willing to agree to another five-year term but we would ask that a provision be added that would allow Google to terminate ownership and operation of the network upon 180 day written notice," wrote Minnie Ingersoll, Google's principal of business operations, in a letter to the city in January.

Google is apparently concerned about taxes or public health issues that could become associated with the network.

Under the new agreement, "Google may only terminate if there is a change in tax laws (excise tax) imposition of a franchise fee, or the system requires some modification due to a determined health or safety risk," economic development director Ellis Berns wrote in a report.

The city or a private vendor could then take on the network, Berns wrote. "Google would also agree to donate the equipment to the City at no cost at the time such notice is given if the City wishes to take over operation of the network," Ingersoll added.

As a way of giving back to its hometown, Google signed an agreement with the city in 2005 to rent hundreds of light poles for over $1,200 a year, in order to mount over 500 wireless radios. Use has expanded to an estimated 20,500 users per month, "making it one of the most heavily used WiFi systems in the country," Berns reports. While the connection is sometimes spotty, signal repeaters costing as much as $70 allow the network to be used inside homes and business for free.

"This network has been a great success for both the city as well as for Google," Ingersoll wrote.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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