JUST A LITTLE PUSH
Nope, it gives us the bad news right away with it's straightforward headline, "Google says it has no plans for National Wi-fi Service".
At first, I thought it might have been a trick headline, but nope, it's a pretty serious and straightforward story, told by the Times' venerable John Markoff:
"There has been widespread speculation that Google might compete nationally as a wireless Internet provider, but an executive said Tuesday in a phone interview that Google had embarked on the Mountain View and San Francisco efforts with other objectives: to demonstrate the value of competition in providing Internet access, and to build systems that would allow the company to experiment with new business ideas."
Om Malik gives some more color in a post on GigaOm:
""Google", Sacca (Google's head of special initiatives), said "just wanted to be a catalyst", just like it wants to catalyze the location-based services. The company is working closely with start-ups such as Flagr and Meetro. Sacca said the goal was to turn Mountain View into a large-scale test bed for various WiFi enabled devices that are coming to market."
Readers of this site know that this author has been a cheer leader for experimentation, catalysts and robust initiatives for open, "almost free" broadband wireless (see here and here). As I said in a post back in April, there exists an opportunity in the US for:
"A nation-wide, non-cellular, broadband wireless consumer online service that charges mainstream, flat, monthly access fees.
By mainstream, I mean something less than the $60 per month add-on, "unlimited" data packages charged by the cellular providers like Verizon Wireless, Sprint et al, for their EV-DO and other flavors of cellular-based wireless broadband services."
The GYMAAAE companies have an opportunity to be a pretty dramatic and decisive catalyst in making this mainstream, open wireless broadband network a reality, much in the way AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo! and CompuServe (remember them?) were a catalyst in helping roll-out inexpensive, flat-priced, and ubiquitous dial-up internet access, with the help of ISPs like UUNET a decade ago.
There are a lot of differences to be sure, but the one thing in common in both instances, is the relentless force of technology driven, price-performance curves being applies to communications.
And I say this independent of whatever happens on regulatory front on the net neutrality debate.
Glorious, ubiquitous, affordable, available on almost any device, high-speed wireless Tubes as it were, again independent of how Senator Ted Stevens thinks of them. (Remix here as an aside, by the way...word of caution, it starts playing upon clicking the link).
It's not a question of if, but when.
And Google's actions to date, hopefully grease the skids on the when.
(Disclosure: I was the lead equity research analyst covering UUNET on it's IPO in 1995, and CompuServe in 1996. I also covered America Online through the nineties).