One aspect of this effort that hasn't gotten a lot of attention is how the access might be paid for.
Some recent articles and blog posts have noted a Google Patent application that describes a way of advertising through this wireless access. Actually, there were three patent applications from Google published on the same day that involve Google, wireless access, and advertising.
The documents are pretty straightforward, and don't need a lot of interpretation, but they do provide an insight into how providing such access can make it easier for people to connect to the internet, and also be a money maker for the folks at Mountain View.
It's a nice trilogy of patent applications.
This one focuses upon providing wireless access
Method and system to provide wireless access at a reduced rate
Filed on September 14, 2004, and published on March 16th, the inventors of document number 20060059043 are Wesley T. Chan, Shioupyn Shen, and Georges Harik.
Methods and system for providing wireless access at a reduced rate. In one embodiment, access to a WAP is provided to an end-user at a rate subsidized by a first entity. The first entity includes advertisements in an end-user view.
This one goes into some detail on integrating advertising into the service to pay for it:
Method and system to provide advertisements based on wireless access points
Also filed on September 14, 2004 and published March 16, 2006, the inventors of document number 20060059044 are Wesley T. Chan, Shioupyn Shen, and Georges Harik.
Methods and system to provide advertisements in a view of an end user accessing a wireless access point. The advertisements are related to the WAP based on a predetermined criterion.
This last one looks at how branding can be done in conjunction with providing wireless access:
Method and system for dynamically modifying the appearance of browser screens on a client device
Filed on September 15, 2004, and published March 16, 2006, the inventors of document number 20060058019 are Wesley T. Chan and Shioupyn Shen.
In one embodiment, a connection of a client device to a wireless access point is identified. Further, the appearance of a screen presented on the client device is modified to reflect the brand associated with a provider of the wireless access point.
Taken together, these point to a plan that may attract other municipalities and areas to work with Google to provide wireless internet access. The idea seems to be a good one.
But, how much access can advertising money provide, and will there be a risk of advertising oversaturating the attraction of getting on the web? Can free wireless access increase the number of folks venturing online in significant numbers?