Google's free WiFi network transports nearly 600 gigabytes a day

Google's muni-WiFi network in Mountain View, Calif., reached its third anniversary this month and WiFi vendor Tropos reports that the network now transports close to 600 gigabytes of user data on a daily basis. That number is double the volume from two years ago, and Tropos said the statistics indicate it is one of the most heavily used open networks in the world.  

"We continue to experience extremely high demand--both in terms of users and bandwidth," said Karl Garcia at Google, who leads the Google WiFi project. "We've seen the iPhone and other WiFi-enabled handheld devices as significant drivers of the high demand we see. Currently nearly a quarter of all devices that connect to our network are handhelds, compared to almost none when we launched the network," said Garcia.

The statistics are similar to what WiFi network owners are saying across the country. WiFi-enabled smartphones are driving up usage. Last month, AT&T said it handled nearly 15 million WiFi connections on its network, a 41 percent increase over the first quarter. The service provider said 49 percent of the total connections were made by integrated devices. This is an increase of 41 percent over the first quarter 2009--a significant shift that tracks with the growth of WiFi-enabled devices, AT&T said.

The network's coverage area is about 12 square miles and includes business and residential areas. The service is free. Google recently told FierceBroadbandWireless that it has no plans to expand WiFi to other cities. AT&T and Cablevision offer WiFi for free as a way to gain and retain customers on their fixed broadband services.

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