Secure Wireless Access From Google & More On GoogleNet Broadband Plans

Google Pulls The Other Leg With Secure Access from InsideGoogle covers new Google Secure Access wireless software now being offered for download, while Threadwatch and Om Malik points to the Google Reviewing Bids for National Optical Switching Network article at IP Media Monitor (free reg. required) adding further proof that Google is building out a US nationwide optical fiber network.

Google Secure Access is software you install on your computer designed to let you establish a more secure WiFi connect, or so the FAQ page says. A Google engineer apparently developed this during his personal 20 percent time. While the FAQ says it's available for download at "certain Google WiFi locations in the San Francisco Bay Area," I was able to download it from the UK. I haven't yet installed it to see if I could get a secure wireless connection through an access point routed through Google, however.

All internet traffic you send and received is encrypted and sent through Google. Google says in its privacy policy that it may log some of the pages you view. It says cookies aren't logged and some query data is stripped away. However, it probably still logs your IP and may have other ways of knowing a particular person may be using the service.

Google Web Accelerator Raises Worries covers just some of the concerns that the earlier Google Web Accelerator program raised about privacy and other issues. The company stopped offering the internet browsing software days after it was released, saying as it does today:

Thank you for your interest in Google Web Accelerator. We have currently reached our maximum capacity of users and are actively working to increase the number of users we can support.

Five months later, Google doesn't appear to have solved the "support" problem, making it seem much more likely that the negative reaction to web accelerator means it may never return or not for some lengthy period.

That leads to Nathan's "pulls the other leg" headline over at InsideGoogle. He, as with many others, assumes that web accelerator was a master plan to get data from users as a means of improving search results.

Perhaps, but as I've said before, Google doesn't need either Web Accelerator or Google Secure Access for this. It already has millions of installed copies of the Google Toolbar that, when advanced features are switched on, gives it plenty of data about browsing habits of surfers -- and data is has had access to for years.

Both Web Accelerator and Google Secure Access could add to that data, but they are giant, bandwidth intensive ways to get what can be gained more easily through other methods.

So why offer these? Back when news that Google had invested in a broadband-over-powerlines company came out, the company made it clear:

As part of our corporate mission, we are interested in promoting universal access to the internet for users.

Google wants everyone online. Get everyone online, and you can more easily ensure you're routing them to Google information for searching the web, searching video, whatever. And along the way, you'll show them ads -- targeted to what they're viewing, to where they are actually located (as Om's written) or whatever. Which leads to the other key bit of news, the bids for a optical fiber network.

The IP Media Monitor article says the network would be cheaper to construct than some similar networks, maybe costing only $100 million, and be up and running within months. The assumption is that offering video services is a chief reason why Google wants the network.

The article also talks about the "last mile" problem and how it might be closed by connecting the network to users through wireless. And hey, wouldn't it be cool if you had a bunch of people feeling more comfortable about wireless if they had a secure connection? How about some software with that?

Want to comment or discuss? Visit our forum thread, Google Wireless & Broadband Moves.

Postscript: Google begins limited test of Wi-Fi service from Reuters has Google confirming that it is offering two wifi spots near its headquarters, but it won't comment on any further evolution of this test.

About the author

Danny Sullivan was the founder and editor of Search Engine Watch from June 1997 until November 2006.

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