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Gigabit Cities

Gigabites: Google Fiber Goes Wireless

Welcome to your Friday Gigabites. In this edition, Google Fiber makes a strategic acquisition, the state of Maryland plans for a major new fiber link between Northern Virginia and Baltimore, North Carolina-based ISP Fibrant wins approval for expansion and more.

  • Alphabet Inc. may have to think about changing the name of its Google Fiber Inc. business. The company announced this week that it plans to acquire Internet service provider Webpass in a move that will provide a wireless boost to Google Fiber's gigabit ambitions. The news comes only a short while after parent company Alphabet talked up the benefits of fixed wireless technology in its first-ever shareholder meeting. The company believes it can spread gigabit broadband faster and cheaper if it doesn't have to "go digging up your garden" to roll out fiber to every home. (See Google Fiber Buys Webpass in Wireless Play and Alphabet Wants to Network the Nation's Cities.)

    The Webpass business is specifically targeted at multi-dwelling units (MDUs) today, but it's hard to know if Google Fiber will stick with that strategy or test out fixed-wireless deployments with single-family homes.

    Beyond residential service, the Webpass technology should give Alphabet a strong asset in its quest to help develop new smart city infrastructure and applications. The company has already demonstrated its significant interest in smart city initiatives. Among other efforts, Alphabet is in the process of helping to create a transportation coordination software platform called Flow. It has promised to provide free access to Flow to the winner of the federal government's Smart City Challenge. That winner – Columbus, Ohio – was just announced yesterday.


  • For more gigabit coverage and insights, check out our dedicated Gigabit/Broadband content channel here on Light Reading.


  • In further Google Fiber news, the company is progressing, albeit slowly, with fiber plans in Charlotte, NC. According to the Charlotte Business Journal, the company has received 82 permits for fiber installations around the city, including both underground and aerial deployments. Google Fiber first announced it was entering the Charlotte market in January 2015.

  • Farther up the East Coast, the D.C. metro region got a dose of positive gigabit news recently. The state of Maryland has signed a resource-sharing deal with USA Fiber to create a new direct fiber link between Ashburn, Va., and Baltimore. According to a Montgomery County, Maryland official, 90% of Internet traffic on East Coast passes through data centers in Ashburn, making it a critical interconnection hub in the region. By creating a direct connection from Baltimore through Maryland's Montgomery County, the D.C. region will be able to support much higher broadband speeds, particularly for businesses, in the area.

  • Back to North Carolina... City-owned ISP Fibrant in Salisbury got permission this week to expand to two business parks just outside the city limits, but still within the same county. Fibrant is famous for introducing 10-Gig service to Salisbury in September of last year. (See Carolina Town Becomes First US 10-Gig City.)

  • And finally, broadband vendor Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) celebrated a milestone this week announcing that more than 350 communities have used its technology and services in gigabit deployments. Service provider customers for Adtran range from utility companies to cable and telco operators to land developers.
  • — Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

    kq4ym 7/11/2016 | 9:10:57 AM
    Re: Google It would seem that a Google wireless solution might ultimately be a way around digging up gardens for their high speed efforts. Whether it will be economcal;y feasible and efficient is still a question to be answered though.
    radekboniek 6/28/2016 | 9:24:22 AM
    Google Google.. really nice information :]
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