Will GoogleNET Go National?

GoogleNET will soon be expanding into different cities – that is if you believe Earthlink CEO Garry Betty.

Despite repeated and strong denials by the search giant, anecdotal evident suggests that Google has national ambitions for its WiFi network, aka GoogleNET. I had written about this for Business 2.0 last year, and have been tracking this story. What started off as a sponsorship of a hotspot in Union Square in San Francisco, was extended to Bryant Park in New York City, followed by citywide access in Mountain View, California, and then came mother of all wins: San Francisco.

Google and its ISP partner, Earthlink, are now looking to expand to other locales. Earthlink is betting the farm on its WiFi efforts, and has won bids to build such networks in Anaheim, California, Milpitas, and Philadelphia.

Dow Jones News Wires quotes Earthlink CEO Garry Betty as saying that while Google-Earthlink haven’t identified the next city they want to jointly target, they have plans to expand their hybrid model – paid service from Earthlink and ad-supported free access by Google – the discussions are on! Unlike San Francisco, it seems the two companies plan to tweak their model a little.

They would, however, offer all city residents and visitors free access to Google’s ad-supported local search service and to area Web sites, he said, using technology from Google that would restrict non-subscribers’ access. Google would share some of the ad revenue earned with EarthLink.

Of course there is a distinct possibility that Betty might be overstating a bit, after all, there have been no deals between the two companies that have been officially announced. I bet Google would be more inclined to partner with anyone as long as it brings in some ad-dollars to the company. Google recently filed for patents a technology that allows it to push highly targeted ads to wireless users, and then split the monies with the company offering the service.

According to the patent, which was filed in 2004 and published by the U.S. Patent Office in mid-March, the advertising can be refreshed and changed even when the user is not moving from Web page to Web page.

“I can’t wait for Wi-Fi everywhere. ” writes Chris Sacca, who has been championing Google’s WiFi efforts, on the Google Blog. Neither can we!

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