Google may be expanding its provision of public Wi-Fi according to planning documents for its high-speed broadband service. There’s even speculation it could get into cellphone services.
The revelation comes in a planning document sent to officials in 34 cities which have shown an interest in getting Google Fiber. That’s a program in which Google builds a local network marketed as offering connections of up to 1 gigabit per second.
The document has been leaked to the IDG News Service. It doesn’t go into much detail, but notes Google will be ” discussing our Wi-Fi plans and related requirements” with candidate cities for Google Fiber. The company is saying publicly that it has no specific details to announce now, but would like to offer Wi-Fi in cities with the Fiber service.
Google already offers Wi-Fi at all Starbucks locations in the US but doesn’t otherwise offer public Wi-Fi. It has previously tested such an idea using streetlights as hotspots in its hometown of Mountain View, California. The proposals for extending Fiber into new cities involve using utility poles rather than just underground cables, so it’s conceivable the poles could also serve as hotspots.
If Google were to offer widespread Wi-Fi services, privacy regulators would likely keep a particularly close eye on its activity. Inadvertent data collection while scanning for Wi-Fi network locations during its Street View mapping work has previously led to investigations and reprimands for Google around the world.
Earlier this month, reports suggested that Google wanted to go as far as to offer cellphone services in cities where its Fiber broadband is available. Those reports, which haven’t had any sign of confirmation, said Google wanted to be a virtual operator, using Verizon’s network to handle the calls.