Google reportedly working with Ruckus on cloud-based Wi-Fi network

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is working with Ruckus Wireless to create a large-scale, cloud-based Wi-Fi network for enterprises, according to a GigaOM report, which cited an unnamed source.

According to GigaOM, Google and Ruckus are trialing a new software-based wireless controller that virtualizes the management functions of the Wi-Fi network in the cloud. That could give the network global reach and let any business join and any Google customer access.

Google and Ruckus declined to comment, according to GigaOM.

The report comes on the heels of a similar one from The Information, which said that Google is preparing to subsidize commercial-grade Wi-Fi gear and software for small- and medium-size businesses, perhaps in exchange for having Wi-Fi users use their Google accounts to sign into those businesses' Wi-Fi hotspots, which will in turn help Google better target advertising to them. The report from The Information said Google could launch the offering this summer, and, as with other managed services programs for Wi-Fi hotspots, Google apparently intends to share user information with business and venue owners, which they in turn could use for marketing to visitors.

The approach reported by GigaOM seems to fit with a recent move by Ruckus. In April, Ruckus unveiled its new Smart Wi-Fi Access Management Service, which shifts local network infrastructure--such as WLAN controllers, authentication servers, captive portals, advertising engines and content filtering--into the cloud, a move the company claims will enable businesses to more quickly and easily roll out public Wi-Fi hotspots. It could let customers more easily deploy Wi-Fi access points by putting them onto the same virtualized network.

As GigaOM points out, a cloud-based Wi-Fi service would free Google from having to manage loads of individual local access points and would also allow the company to circumvent traditional carriers and MSOs to offer data access to customers.

The report also added that Google will offer the service to businesses without charge long as they agree to join its public network, though enterprise customers will need to supply their own broadband connections. Google is also going to make use of Hotspot 2.0 technology to let customers seamlessly roam and authenticate onto its hotspots from cellular networks.

Google, however, will not sell Wi-Fi equipment directly to businesses as The Information suggested, according to GigaOM, making businesses supply their own Wi-Fi access points, and buy new Ruckus gear.

For more:
- see this GigaOM article

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