Google backs effort to bring free WiFi to cities
This year has already seen Google take some big steps forward in its expansion from a company that provides information services to a company that also provides access to such services. We had already seen what it could do as an ISP with Google Fiber, and now with Project Fi it’s moving into the wireless communication game. Now a Google-created startup is getting involved with another project along those lines, acquiring a couple of the firms working on the LinkNYC effort to bring free high-speed WiFi to the streets of New York City.
LinkNYC intends to blanket the city in WiFi served out of APs installed where old payphones are now. Two of the companies behind the initiative, Titan and Control Group, are being snatched-up by a group of investors led by Sidewalk Labs, a Google-funded company created last month to spur on urban technological innovation.
While that puts Google proper a couple steps removed from the action, it’s clear that the company sees this sort of municipal WiFi project as a smart investment, offering (among other things) lots of new advertising potential – and the Google of today is very much an advertising company.
Look for the first LinkNYC WiFi APs to deploy sometime in September.