If you've experienced difficulty connecting to Google's free wi-fi network in Mountain View, relief is on the way.
Google plans "in the near future to evolve the network from its original design," said spokeswoman Jenna Wandres. "This includes adding bandwith to allow easier connection. We are working on that right now, hopefully people will see changes."
Installed in 2006, the free wi-fi network covers about 12 square miles of the city. Traffic grew 10 percent each month that first year, handling 300 gigabytes of data each day, sent to over 100 distinct types of wi-fi devices. By 2011, more than 500 nodes provided the service to users.
However, that was then and this is now.
According to Ellis Berns, assistant community development director and econommic development manager, discussions between the city and the Mountain View-based Google raised the fact that "the nature and quantity of devices has changed pretty dramatically" over the past seven years.
"The first smart phones were just being marketed and then took off in terms of numbers; more recently IPads were developed, meaning more devices were being developed that utilized and could access a wi-fi network," Berns said. "I think the demand was far in excess of what the system was designed to accommodate."
As a result, the city has "been talking with Google, about the possibility of upgrading the system to accommodate the higher level of usage and demand on the system."
The upgrade could include the replacement of equipment and software, Berns noted.
Berns added that the city had received complaints from residents who couldn't connect indoors, and would pass them along to Google. But the free wi-fi was meant to work outdoors and it was a "test" since few cities nationwide have free wireless.
But Google remains committed to Mountain View, it's first and only city where the company offers free wi-fi.
"Google is diligently working on a plan to dramatically improve the quality and coverage of the Mountain View wi-fi network," said Robert Brown, business development director for Google WiFi. "While indoor coverage is not guaranteed—except for inside a few city buildings where we will have network equipment—the access to it indoors should be noticeably different after the upgrade."
The upgrade is anticipated to take a few months to complete, Brown shared.
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