We've all heard of Google Fiber, the supposed pinnacle of internet service providers. The platform is slowly rolling out across the country, but Google has also just expanded its capability to include wireless service as well. Google's very first gigabit connected wireless customer is a Denver apartment complex. The connectivity is offered through Google's recently acquired Webpass service, not their usual Fiber service.
Webpass offers "Point-to-Point wireless" to businesses, apartment buildings, and condos in several large metropolitan areas. While Webpass as an ISP has been around for more than a decade, this week marks the first new rollout as part of Google's internet team.
Running buried fiber optic cable is extremely expensive and not even possible in some locations. In remote or metropolitan areas, there's no economical way to get high speed internet service to customers without using new wireless techniques like this. The way Google's Webpass service works is as a replacement for the "last mile" of wiring. That is usually the most difficult and expensive since it means running wires from distribution centers to each individual house or building complex.
With Webpass, Google can run a single fiber optic cable to the transmitter unit placed high above a city, then have multiple receiving units located far apart in the city. The devices transmit on the newly available 3.5GHz unlicensed spectrum that was used by naval radar systems until it was made available to Google and others by the FCC. The service isn't really designed for single home use, but for large apartment complexes or office buildings instead.
Years of red tape and lobbying by utility companies have made Google Fiber's growth rather slow. To counter this, Google Fiber has cut staff and is now focusing on wireless technologies as well. Look for it to come to a city near you in the not so distant future.