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Sitemap Sep-Archive-05 Google Begins Limited Test of Wi-Fi Service

Google Begins Limited Test of Wi-Fi Service  

Google, the online search leader, confirmed that it has begun a limited test of a free wireless internet service, called Google WiFi.

WiFi is an increasingly popular technology that is used to provide high-speed wireless Internet access in homes, business and public spaces like airports and coffee shops. WiFi connectivity is built into many new laptop computers, as well as some handheld devices and Sony's PlayStation Portable.

The Google Web site has several references to Google WiFi but provides few details. One page http://wifi.google.com/faq.html refers to a product called Google Secure Access, which is designed to establish a more secure connection while using Google WiFi. A separate page http://wifi.google.com/download.html offers a free download of Google Secure Access, carrying the headline: Your wireless connection is almost ready to use.

Google spokesman Nate Tyler said the current test is limited to two public sites near the company's Mountain View, California, headquarters -- a pizza parlor and a gym -- located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Google WiFi is a community outreach program to offer free wireless access in areas near our headquarters, Tyler said.

Becoming a service provider would be quite a stretch for Google, but considering the billions of dollars Google could throw at the problem it could become a reality, Ovum analyst Roger Entner wrote in the wake of the Business 2.0 article.

As evidence, the magazine pointed to what it said was Google's purchase of unused, high-capacity fiber-optic network connections left over from the telecom bust earlier this decade. Google responded saying that such purchases were natural for a company with one of the larger websites.

Analysts have voiced concerns that Google could extend itself too far beyond its core business, while acknowledging its vast financial and engineering resources could produce results. Google, which is rapidly expanding beyond its core Internet search service, introduced an instant messaging and telephony service called Google Talk in August.

Depending on how Google can adapt to these challenging areas and how committed it is to the space, it could become a home run or could break the bank.

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