Technology

Could Google’s purchase of a wireless company boost Boston’s Internet?

Internet giant Google made a curious move Wednesday when its Google Fiber unit bought a small company that provides high-speed Internet service in Boston and several other large US cities.

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Internet giant Google made a curious move Wednesday when its Google Fiber unit bought a small company that provides high-speed Internet service in Boston and several other large US cities.

So what’s Google up to in Boston now?

The Internet giant made a curious move Wednesday. Its Google Fiber unit bought a small company that provides high-speed Internet service in Boston and several other large US cities.

Advertisement

It’s unclear though if that means Boston will finally get on the list of cities that will receive Google’s super-fast fiber-optic service, which provides Internet connection speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

For one, the company Google Fiber bought, Webpass Inc., uses a wireless network to deliver Internet service to antennas mounted on rooftops, with the signal then patched through to customers using Ethernet cables. Moreover, it does not serve single-family homes or small businesses. Webpass says residential buildings should have at least 10 units to make its service economical.

Get BetaBoston Daily in your inbox:
Stay ahead of the competition with the most up-to-date info on Boston's startup community
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

In addition to Boston, Webpass provides Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second to office buildings and large apartment buildings in Miami, Chicago, San Diego, and San Francisco, where it is based. For residential customers the company is advertising a plan that provides service beginning at 100 megabits per second for $60 a month.

Since its rollout in 2010, Google Fiber is available in five cities: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Provo, Utah; Nashville; and Kansas City, Mo. Another 15 are scheduled to receive the service, but none are in the Northeast.

Neither company is saying much about Google’s plans for Webpass.

Advertisement

“By joining forces, we can accelerate the deployment of superfast Internet connections for customers across the US,” Webpass president Charles Barr said in a news release. But the company declined further comment.

Roger Entner, analyst at Recon Analytics LLC in Dedham, noted that building out a fiber network in each city is extremely expensive.

“Basically to build out a city would cost them a billion dollars,” said Entner. ”And even for somebody like Google, a billion dollars is a lot of money.”

So, Google could save a fortune by supplementing its fiber with wireless systems such as those from Webpass that would beam Internet signals over the air.

Entner said that with Webpass’s wireless technology, Google could deliver high-speed Internet much more quickly and cheaply than by building a full-fledged fiber network.

In Boston, the company is not only up against the main incumbent provider from Comcast Corp., but a host of other services that promise to bring real competition for high-speed Internet service. Verizon Communications Inc. has announced a six-year program to roll out its Fios service in Boston. RCN Corp. serves about 20 percent of Boston and recently announced the extension of Internet service to 5,000 more households in Dorchester.

Another company provides a similar service as Webpass, netBlazr Inc., but again only in some portions of the city. In addition, a Boston startup called Starry Internet plans to begin testing a wireless high-speed service in the city this summer.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.