Blog Post

Google reportedly plans to target businesses with Wi-Fi

Google(s goog) may not be able to sell businesses a broadband connection outside of its handful of fiber cities, but it could supply the final wireless link to millions of restaurants, gyms and doctors’ offices, according to a new report by The Information.

According to The Information’s Amir Efrati, Google plans to sell Wi-Fi gear at steep discounts to businesses in exchange for managing their applications in its cloud and permission to extend wireless internet access to other Google customers. If the report is true, this could be part of a larger plan by Google to circumvent mobile carriers and use Wi-Fi to connect more of its customers to its services on the go.

Image: Shutterstock / Sputanski
Image: Shutterstock / Sputanski

Key to strategy, according to Efrati, is the emerging technology Hotspot 2.0, which allows Wi-Fi networks to behave more like cellular networks. With Hotspot 2.0, Google could use these businesses’ Wi-Fi access points to offer a national wireless data network that any Google user could automatically and securely log into whenever they were in range.

Google is already experimenting with Wi-Fi in many ways. It recently replaced AT&T(s t) as the wireless ISP behind the Wi-Fi networks in Starbucks(s sbux) coffee shops, and it’s been building free (ad-supported) Wi-Fi networks in San Francisco parks. Eight years ago, it built a metro Wi-Fi network covering its hometown of Mountain View.

But what’s most interesting is the technical development work it’s been doing in wireless. Over the last couple of years, Gigaom has spotted experimental license applications from Google to test new gigabit Wi-Fi technologies and even build what looks to be a small cell network similar to those mobile carriers have started deploying.

7 Responses to “Google reportedly plans to target businesses with Wi-Fi”

  1. Andrea Calcagno

    I believe that Public Wi-Fi is more than a simple internet service … Cloud4Wi ( is building a new concept of wi-fi service based on marketplace approach. Thanks to the first Wi-Fi application marketplace, our innovative solution allows Wi-Fi hotspot owners to monetize their networks by offering customer engagement, advertising and social media apps. With our cloud-based managed service, our partners can now deliver on the monetization promises of WiFi hotspots. We have released a new software development kit (SDK) ( to enable third-party developers to design apps for its Wi-Fi marketplace platform, expanding the ecosystem of Wi-Fi monetizing solutions and delivering greater network value to organizations with Wi-Fi offerings.
    Our cloud service works with new and existing networks using top WiFi manufacturers such as Cisco, HP, Aruba, Ruckus, Aerohive, Meru and more. BTW Google would have this disruptive approach and not offer or do what other companies offer or do since 10 years!!!

  2. Mike Hammett

    I know of a ton of independent ISPs that would love to work with Google and other Hotspot 2.0 builders, but have thus far received a chilly reception.

  3. davidewilliams

    I am still waiting to hear how they intend to deal with 1) data security or 2) accoutability.

    1) If my data is passing through this wireless network, to connect to the internet through someone else’s broadband service, what is to stop that person from collecting or filtering my data before it goes out the pipe?

    2) If I am the one with the broadband service that another wireless user’s data will go through, if something illegal is done, I am the one the authorities will be coming to talk to.

    Nice utopian idea, but I need to see some practical implementation and control plans before I can give any praise to it.

  4. “With Hotspot 2.0, Google could monitor traffic through these businesses’ Wi-Fi access points to offer a national wireless data network that sends back all data on any Google user whenever they were in range.”

    This is probably nearer the truth.

  5. Interesting how you often hear about the importance of ‘first mover’ advantage in business — especially in the tech sector. Google wasn’t first in search, e-mail, mobile, social, cloud, music streaming, and now wi-fi as well other areas. When they decide to enter a market, they excel at coming up w/ a better, more beneficial approach for something that spreads quickly and eventually they rise to the top.

    • David

      Yes, you’re absolutely right. Indeed, there is no such thing as first mover advantage.

      First mover advantage is one of the biggest fallacies in the business world.

      For example, here is a list of first (or early) movers:

      1) browsers: Netscape
      2) web search: webcrawler
      3) social: Friendster
      4) online music: napster/rhapsody
      5) online tv: Joost
      and so on.