Google's free Wi-Fi network bogging down due to traffic

The free Wi-Fi network Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) deployed in its hometown of Mountain View, Calif., more than six years ago is choking on increased traffic and, according to reports, not only slows down but shuts down on occasion in certain locations.

An official online forum for the Google Wi-Fi Network is rife with complaints from Mountain View residents who say the municipal network is often unusable.

A comment last month on the online Google forum from WiFi4All, apparently a Google representative, said, "We understand that there are challenges with our free WiFi network in Mountain View. The network was created over seven years ago and wasn't built to support the current usage.

"We are researching options regarding the future of our WiFi network in Mountain View and have reached out to discuss these options with City of Mountain View staff. We hope to have additional information available to share with our users in the near future. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience," said the post.

The Mountain View Voice wrote about the network's issues in February, when it was likewise informed by Google that the company intends to redesign and upgrade the aging network.

Google first announced plans for the network in 2005 and brought it online in August 2006. Google reportedly paid $1 million for nearly 400 Wi-Fi nodes and rents space on the city of Mountain View's utility poles for $36 apiece or $13,680 a year.

The network initially included 380 access points supplied by Tropos Networks, which was later acquired by ABB. ABB's Tropos equipment is also being used in a free Wi-Fi network being rolled out by Silicon Valley Power Santa Clara, Calif., as part of a smart meter program.

Gateways for Google's network were supplied by Alvarion Networks, while bandwidth aggregation points were supplied by GigaBeam, which subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

Complaints about Google's network are not a new phenomenon. The demanding citizens of Mountain View have grumbled virtually since the network's 2006 launch that signals were weak or non-existent. Yet, others have come to rely upon the network in ensuring years, prompting many of the recent complaints regarding what they say is diminished quality of service.

For more:
- see this Google Wi-Fi Help webpage

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