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Google Offers Free Wi-Fi in Hometown

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Google rolled out its free wireless Internet service in its hometown of Mountain View, Calif., covering 11.5 square miles of the city with some 380 access points. A 1Mbit per second connection would be provided to each user, who would be able to use the network by signing up for a free Google account.

"This network is a way for us to give back to and engage with the community where our headquarters are," product manager Minnie Ingersoll said. "It has been has been tremendously rewarding to partner with the local government, the schools, the library, the neighborhood associations, and all of our trusted testers to introduce the power of free, wireless Internet connectivity to the city."

If demand is high enough for more speed, Google said it would explore increasing bandwidth. The company has tested speeds of up to eight megabits per second according to press reports.

The project is the first to go live for Google, although it has partnered with EarthLink to provide a similar service in the city of San Francisco. However, Google executives have quashed rumors that the company may be ready to make a push to offer Wi-Fi nationwide.

In an interview with the New York Times, special initiatives head Chris Sacca told the paper that such rumors were unfounded. The projects in Mountain View and San Francisco will be used as test beds for new Google efforts, as well as showing the value of providing wireless Internet access on a broad scale.

Other than the San Francisco contract, Google has not made bids to run any of the other 300 or so city Wi-Fi projects currently underway nationwide.

Ingersoll echoed these beliefs. "We think successful mesh wireless deployments will promote competition, create cheaper access alternatives, and foster open, standards-compliant platforms for content and service providers to showcase their applications without the hassle of the traditional walled-garden approach," she said.

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Sweet. A couple of local companies are setting up free Wi-Fi in my home town. The access point across the street from my house is down right now and they keep the "kiddie filters" turned on. They have a little over 2 square miles of access covering downtown. They plan on providing several counties in northwest Tenn. with access. When they get the whole system running, they are going to offer a premium service at a cost and keep the filtered version free. Checking it with Speakeasy's Speed Test, I've got as high as 3.2MBit/sec. download and 1.6 upload, with a Linksys USB Wireless adapter plugged into my desktop.

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