Google closes Webpass acquisition, promises to expand to more cities using point-to-point wireless

Webpass supplies service in a handful of U.S. cities. Image: Google

Google said it closed its acquisition of wireless and fiber internet provider Webpass, and promised that it would expand the company’s point-to-point wireless service into more cities. Google also reiterated its desire to bring wireless technologies to its own Google Fiber offering.

“Of course, at Google Fiber we’re particularly excited about Webpass’ application of point-to-point wireless deployment methodology,” Google wrote on its website. “As we’ve said, our strategy going forward will be a hybrid approach with wireless playing an integral part. Webpass has proven that point-to-point wireless is a reliable way to connect more people to high-speed Internet in a densely populated environment, by setting up wireless transmission links between buildings. Residents simply plug their device or router into the data jack Webpass installs in their unit, and they’re good to go, browsing with speeds reaching up to a Gig.”

Google added the acquisition won’t result in any immediate changes for Google Fiber or Webpass customers, and that the two operations would continue to expand separately.

Google’s Webpass news is noteworthy since it comes just days after the company urged the FCC to retain “light” spectrum licensing rules for the 70 and 80 GHz bands that Webpass in part uses for its point-to-point wireless technology. Google also urged the commission to implement a three-tiered spectrum sharing system for the 24 GHz band, which Webpass also uses.

“Google Inc. and Google Fiber Inc. have first-hand experience with the flexibility and utility of the current regime, having registered 70/80 GHz links for diverse purposes ranging from the retail wireless broadband service of Webpass, Inc., to developing Project Loon’s balloon-powered Internet access technology,” Google wrote in a recent filing with the FCC.

Google in June announced its plans to acquire Webpass, which was founded in 2003 and today provides service to “tens of thousands” of customers across a handful of U.S. markets – including San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Miami, Chicago and Boston – via a mix of fiber and wireless. In wireless specifically, Webpass uses the 6, 11, 18, 23, 24, 60, 70, and 80 GHz bands, representing a mix of licensed and unlicensed frequencies.

Google’s Webpass news also comes amid reports that Google is scaling down its Google Fiber business as it evaluates wireless technologies that could reduce the cost to the company of building fiber networks.

But Google and Webpass aren’t the only companies working to deliver super-fast wireless connections via a mix of wired and wireless technologies. A range of smaller wireless internet service providers for years have used various point-to-point wireless technologies to connect nearby users to a base station. Moreover, startup Starry has said it will launch a similar wireless system in Boston later this year. And even Verizon appears to be eyeing a similar fixed wireless service with what the company is calling 5G technology.

For more:
- see this Google post
- see this Wired article

Related articles:
Google Fiber acquires Webpass, bolsters fiber network expansion plans
Wireless ISP Webpass expands with building-specific strategy