With Webpass in Hand, Google Fiber Plans to Accelerate Deployments

Locations where Google's Webpass is available. Image courtesy Google.

– Google Fiber Is Now also Google Fixed-wireless

– ‘A Hybrid Approach with Wireless Playing an Integral Part’

Alphabet’s Google Fiber this week completed its acquisition of Webpass and so is now officially a fixed-wireless broadband service provider to consumers and residences in San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Boston and Miami. But Webpass adds only tens of thousands of subscribers, far from enough to make Google Fiber a major service provider – yet. Google Fiber recently put its deployments on hold, possibly waiting for Webpass and its last mile fixed-wireless broadband know how. Webpass is a service provider, not a technology developer or builder of broadband products.

Google said on a blog, “Of course, at Google Fiber we’re particularly excited about Webpass’ application of point-to-point wireless deployment methodology. 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.”

The statement sounds as if Google has decided that wireless broadband will be important to it for offering broadband to residences in MDUs (which it called “buildings”).

The move seems to indicate that Google is still intent on showing cablecos and telcos how to deploy high-speed broadband on a massive scale – but not in becoming a major national broadband service. But perhaps it can show traditional service provider how to be more innovative in providing gigabit broadband and the many benefits that brings consumers.

All of which raise a few questions:

– Why did Google Fiber bet on the point-to-point fixed wireless technology that Webpass uses?

– Will the cellcos’ 5G be better?

– Might Google Fiber switch to 5G when it becomes available?

– Is fixed wireless better than G.fast and will it become the dominant last-mile broadband technology?

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