Mountain View is installing new Wi-Fi hotspots in parts of the city to supplement the poorly performing network operated by Google.
Google, which is based in Mountain View, launched a citywide Wi-Fi network with much fanfare in 2006 as a way for residents and businesses to connect to the Internet at no cost. It covers most of the Silicon Valley city and worked well until last year when connectivity got rapidly worse, according to residents.
“The city has received many complaints in recent months regarding the performance and reliability of the free Google Wi-Fi system in Mountain View, particularly at our library,” Kimberly Thomas, assistant to the city manager in Mountain View, said on Tuesday.
As a result, it’s installing an upgraded network at City Hall that will also extend to the town’s library. In both locations, Google’s Wi-Fi network has been the only option for wireless connectivity.
The city and Google have both blamed the problems on the design of the network. It’s been unable to keep up with the demands of today’s data-rich society, with laptops, smartphones and tablets downloading megabytes of information at a time.
City staff are working with Google on alternatives for the citywide network and hope to have a plan before the City Council in the next few months, Thomas said. “The current system will remain at its status quo condition until options for its future are finalized.”
In the meantime, the city is moving ahead with its upgrades.
In a brief comment, Google said it was “actively in discussions with the Mountain View city staff to review several options for the future of the network.”
Martyn Williams produces technology news and product reviews in text and video for PC World, Macworld, and TechHive from his home outside Washington D.C.. He previously worked for IDG News Service as a correspondent in San Francisco and Tokyo and has reported on technology news from across Asia and Europe.