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Google's Wi-Fi not good enough for its home town

Mountain View fed up with poor connectivity, installs hotspots

Google Chocolate Factory

Google's offer of free Wi-Fi to its home city of Mountain View isn't good enough for residents who have been struggling to make use of the overloaded service – but now they're finally getting an alternative.

Google got permission to strap access points to lampposts around Mountain View in 2005, launching the free network a year later, but since then demand has ballooned and the world's largest advertising agency has struggled to keep up.

Now IT World tells us that the city has decided to deploy its own wireless network in City Hall and the local library.

Some parts of Mountain View are still getting decent coverage, but the infrastructure put in by Google clearly can't cope with the proliferation of Wi-Fi-capable devices and the quantity of data they consume.

Google built the network as an experiment, to gain knowledge of the practical limitations of metropolitan Wi-Fi and how to make money out of it, and we'd venture to guess that the latter problem is the bigger challenge.

The original agreement was for five years, but in February 2011 the city granted an additional five years while agreeing to let Google back out with 180 days' notice if conditions changed, on condition that the Chocolate Factory handed the infrastructure over to the city.

But there's been no significant improvement in the capacity, as numerous forum postings testify, which has prompted Mountain View (the city, rather than Google) to take action.

Google will continue to provide most of the coverage, with the city's Wi-Fi adding capacity in busy locations. At least, until Google decides to throw some more money into what, for all its faults, is one of the first metro-wireless networks in America – and one of the very few originals still in operation. ®

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