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Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) says it will not respond to a recently released RFP from the Wireless Silicon Valley Task Force, a coalition of cities and private companies planning to build a massive municipal WiFi network in Silicon Valley.

Google already has built a WiFi network in Mountain View, Calif., and has won a bid with partner EarthLink Inc. (Nasdaq: ELNK) to build one in San Francisco. (See Google, EarthLink Team for SF WiFi.)

The Silicon Valley network would provide coverage for 2.4 million people in a 1,500 square-mile swath of land stretching from Daly City (just south of San Francisco) all the way to Santa Cruz.

The fact that Google's choosing not to participate in one of the largest muni WiFi efforts, right in its back yard, indicates that it may not have long-term designs on being a global WiFi provider, as many have speculated. The new network represented a chance for Google to dramatically expand its Mountain View and San Francisco networks. It would also have furthered Google’s ad-driven WiFi plans. (See Google's Ad-Mad Network .)

Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network COO Seth Fearey contends that Google’s muni WiFi forays are really not the start of a new revenue-generating business, but simply "market research" projects. “They are looking for research that will help them identify what kinds of new products and services they can offer advertisers,” Fearey tells Light Reading.

Fearey believes Google will get out of the WiFi business in San Francisco and Mountain View once its “research” is done: “My guess is that once they have the information they need they will back out or turn it over to somebody else or who knows what."

Google's eventual exit might end up being a good thing for Silicon Valley WiFi users. “Our vision is that you have one account wherever you are in Silicon Valley,” Fearey says. “If you have an account in Daly City and then you move down to Cupertino or Mountain View, you shouldn’t have to have a separate account or a separate log-on."

Fearey says he asked Google executive Larry Adler if Google would be willing to “open up” its Mountain View network to Silicon Valley WiFi account holders after the research project was finished, and Adler said yes. He hasn’t yet discussed with Google the possibility of the same sort of access to the San Francisco network.

Google has a slightly different take on its lack of involvement. "We are focused on Mountain View and San Francisco, and we are very busy in the installing and planning efforts there, and that’s why we are not responding to the Silicon Valley RFP,” Google spokeswoman Megan Quinn says.

EarthLink may have a go at the Silicon Valley network. “At this time we are investigating our options in regards to Silicon Valley,” says EarthLink’s Jerry Grasso in an email to Light Reading. “No comment in regards to Google.”

The Wireless Silicon Valley Task Force says it wants proposals for a privately owned and operated network, but one that will benefit city governments. Agencies from 36 cities are pledging right-of-way privileges, a streamlined permitting process, and a single point of terms negotiation for the vendor or vendors that build the network.

The Task Force is asking vendors to provide plans for a free or low-cost network delivering speeds of greater than 256 kbit/s. According to the RFP, a tier of 1 Mbit/s service could be offered for a higher price.

The Wireless Silicon Valley Task Force represents member organizations ranging from city governments to tech companies like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), which supplied early funding and consulting help.

Responses from vendors are due by June 30. Vendor selections will be announced in September.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 3:55:09 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid In short, because the readers read Google stories. There's also that 117.50B market cap.
opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 3:55:09 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid There may be another explanation. San Francisco is one of the world's premier tourists spots. Silicon Valley is definitely not.

As more and more people have WiFi connected devices, it is likely that lots of tourists will usse these devices to help them get around places they travel to--maps, restaurant guides, etc.

Google is all about advertising. They have a nice search engine that brings them many advertising dollars. They have a potential to make a lot of advertising dollars with a WiFi network in San Francisco. I can't believe that there is much of an opportunity in Silicon Valley.

So what city would be next? Paris?
joeram 12/5/2012 | 3:55:09 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid How many articles has LR headlined with Google's plans to enter a market or not, or if they agree with an FCC policy, or not, etc.? I don't understand the special treatment.
Belzebutt 12/5/2012 | 3:55:08 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid How many articles has LR headlined with Google's plans to enter a market or not, or if they agree with an FCC policy, or not, etc.? I don't understand the special treatment.

Everyone loves Google, not just LR.
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:55:07 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid Could be. But Google may have gotten its fill of building muni WiFi networks. I doubt the ad profits from San Francisco will justify all the hassle (with local officials and activist groups) they've already endured there.
opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 3:55:06 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid I still believe in the tourism angle. People forget how Google makes money. It is not from people doing searches.

San Francisco, tourists spent almost $7 billion dollars on local businesses. Many of these local businesses are advertising customers of Google.

As for why Light Reading should have Google articles: Google has been buying up lots of dark fiber throughout the country. This is the interesting story. What are they doing with it?
scs_reader 12/5/2012 | 3:55:06 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid Scott-

GE's Market Cap is 362B maybe you should start writing articles about them.

You editorial guys all drink the GOOG Kool Aid a bit too much. They are an advertising company. People desperately need them to be something more than that to justify the nearly 70 PE (almmost three times the PE of YHOO). So the GOOG PR machine floats this nonsense week after week to keep that stock pumped up.

My 2 cents...don't believe the Hype, and in your case don't report the hype.



Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:55:05 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid Well tera I think we can agree on the fiber thing. The whole reason for this Google coverage (regardless of their market cap) is because of the possibility that the company will leverage its fiber to piece together a national or even global ad-based WiFi network. This would be an end-around the Bell/Cable duopoly for broadband access, and, needlesss to say, an industry-changing development.
litedope 12/5/2012 | 3:55:03 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid It is nothing wrong to write about GOOG as it has been a miracle (or mystery) in hi-tech world over last 5 years. Everyone wants/needs to know more about it and learn from it. However, LRG«÷s news and reports on GOOG have been so far pale, nothing more than announcements from GOOG. LR shall G«£recruitG«• GOOG insiders as it is enjoying now in telecom and Netcom worlds. As such, LR could report insights from all hands meetings, internal emails and etc.
Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 3:55:03 AM
re: Google Out of Valley WiFi Bid actually I don't really think we feed the hype... if anything we provide a rational filter on the hype.

If GE starts moving into WiFi networks and building its own fiber backbone, we will definitely cover it.
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