Google launches free wireless Internet

SAN FRANCISCO: Google has opened a wireless Internet umbrella over its hometown in northern California's high-tech Silicon Valley, enabling anyone in the city to connect online for free.

"It worked smashingly," Chris Sacca, Google head of special initiatives, said on Wednesday. "We have really been looking forward to this day. The citizens have embraced it as their network."

Google spent one million dollars creating a network that lets people with wireless-enabled computers, telephones or other devices to link to the Internet nearly anywhere in the city of Mountain View, which covers almost 31 sqkm.

Google affixed WiFi antennae to city-owned lamp posts and was working with residents who have offered their homes as antenna spots in 'dead zones.'

The cost of running the system was "phenomenally cheap" and the network was in keeping with Google's belief in universal access to the Internet and the world's information, according to Sacca.

"One of the main goals of the project was to inspire citizens to realize there is this promise of access and at the same time to inspire entrepreneurs to develop networks," Sacca said.

"What better way to go ahead and put your money where your mouth is than to build a network and show that it works."

The wireless network also provides Google's more than 1,000 employees in the city opportunities to experiment with new technologies and services.