Google WiFi, Take Two

The New York Times has a lengthy piece on Google, its desktop search efforts and what it might do with $4 billion and change it plans to raise in a secondary offering. The article, is an interesting look into Google’s plans, but here is how it intersects with my piece in Business 2.0, the GoogleNet. As I had reported earlier, the company has been in close contact with San Francisco city officials about a WiFi network. The Times confirmed that, though giving Business 2.0 credit would be a bit too much to expect.

> Recently the company has discussed public Wi-Fi networks with Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, who is leading an effort to develop a city-backed wireless data network infrastructure. The idea that Google might try to build an independent national Wi-Fi network has been discussed, but network industry specialists say that such an idea is far-fetched. “Why would they want to get into the customer service business?” said Michael J. Kleeman, a telecommunications industry expert who was chief technology officer for Cometa Networks, which undertook an earlier national Wi-Fi network effort. He noted that two-thirds of the costs involved in such retail businesses are in customer acquisition and support. “When was the last time you called Google with a problem?” he said.

Mr. Kleeman hasn’t read my story. He thinks Google is building a retail WiFi business. That is Times/Kleeman’s interpertation. My story talks about a free WiFi service, not a retail operation. In a situation where you are giving away WiFi for free, the customer service business aspect doesn’t even come into play. When you pay, that’s when you expect customer service. That’s just obvious!