Last August, Business 2.0 magazine published an article that speculated Google was considering building a U.S. broadband network capable of targeting specific advertising to users, based on the location of their WiFi. The so-called "Google.net"" or "Google WiFi" caused much speculation, however, the company remained close-lipped.
Tuesday, Google finally made an official announcement. 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.
These two sites join a Google-sponsored Wi-Fi "hotspot" in San Francisco's Union Square shopping district.
"Google WiFi is a community outreach program to offer free wireless access in areas near our headquarters," Tyler said.
"At this stage in development, we're focused on collecting feedback from users. We'll determine next steps as the product evolves," he said.
There you have it! Google WiFi is a "community outreach program". That sounds innocent enough, and apparently Google has no immediate plans to become an ISP, put WiFi providers out of business, or otherwise take over the world.
I admit I'm a bit of a "Google cynic", but I rather like the idea of a corporation extending its technology to the surrounding community. However, the final statement from Mr. Tyler clearly mentions a "product" and active "development" of that product.
What do you see as the potential ramifications of a widespread "Google WiFi" service? I invite your comments.