Google Fiber is coming to five more cities, thanks to a new acquisition.
On Wednesday, the San Francisco-based Internet service provider Webpass announced that Google Fiber has agreed to buy the company. Webpass primarily offers what it calls “point-to-point wireless” service to businesses, apartment buildings and condos in five metropolitan areas — San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Boston, and Miami. What this means is that Webpass beams Internet to a fixed antenna on the building, and then runs data cables into each unit. From the end-user’s perspective, the connection is simply a traditional ethernet port like you’d find in corporate offices or dorm rooms.
Webpass advertises connections as fast as 1 Gbps – the same speed as Google Fiber — for either $550 per year or $65 per month for the 1 Gbps service. Landlords can also opt to pay for the service and offer it as an amenity to residents. That’s less than Google charges for the same speed: a 1 Gbps fixed-line fiber optic service goes for about $80 a month. A Google Fiber spokesperson says that Webpass’s pricing and branding will remain the same after the acquisition.
The Webpass approach differs from Google’s Fiber’s usual model, which involves running fiber optic cables to customers’ homes. But earlier this year Google Fiber began testing wireless Internet service in Kansas City in an attempt to cut the costs of deploying high-speed connections. And this spring Google Fiber announced that it would offer service to select San Francisco apartments and condos, so this move seems to fit well with that strategy.
“Joining Google Fiber will be a great development for our users because the companies share the same vision of the future and commitment to the customer,” Webpass president Charles Barr wrote on the Webpass blog. “Google Fiber’s resources will enable Webpass to grow faster and reach many more customers than we could as a standalone company.”
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but according to Barr’s post, the acquisition should close this summer.
This isn’t the first time Google Fiber has acquired an existing provider. In 2013 the company acquired the Provo, Utah fiber-optic network iProvo. But it does represent a shift in the company’s overall strategy, away from building entirely new infrastructure. If Google Fiber is serious about becoming a nationwide Internet provider to rival Comcast, Verizon and Charter, more acquisitions will surely follow.
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