Alphabet's Google Fiber Acquires Webpass to Increase Its Presence

The purchase should boost the company's plans to bring high-speed Internet service to more cities.

Google Fiber

Alphabet-owned Google Fiber has agreed to acquire Webpass, a San Francisco-based provider of high-speed Internet services delivered via point-to-point wireless technology to office buildings, apartments and other multitenant facilities.

The purchase, if approved, will give Google Fiber a presence in the five major metropolitan areas where Webpass currently operates: San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, San Diego and Miami. Of these cities, Google has already started deploying Google Fiber in San Francisco and San Diego. The deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, will also expand Google Fiber's customer base by tens of thousands of customers.

In a statement, Charles Barr, president and founder of Webpass, described the agreement as one that will allow Google to accelerate its planned deployment of fast Internet services to customers around the country.

"Joining Google Fiber will be a great development for our users because the companies share the same vision of the future and commitment to the customer," Barr said.

Established in 2003, Webpass delivers up to gigabit speed Internet to residential customers and business just like Google is seeking to do with Fiber. But the company's service delivery model is different from that of Google.

Instead of using fiber to connect buildings to its service, Webpass uses point-to-point wireless connections. The company uses wireless to beam Internet services to antennas installed on top of buildings that are part of its service, from where the service is delivered to each unit in the building via cable.

As Webpass describes it, the company's Internet service is delivered to users as Ethernet. Subscribers simply connect their systems or their wireless router to an Ethernet jack to get high-speed service.

Webpass offers customers in residential buildings speeds ranging from 100M bps to 1G bps at $60 for a monthly plan or $550 per year. Webpass' commercial Internet service plans start at $125 per month for a 10M-bps service to $5,500 per month for Gigabit Internet.

Webpass' service is only available in larger office buildings and multitenant residential facilities because, the company says, it is not cost-effective for it to deliver Internet via point-to-point wireless to single-family homes and small businesses. The company claims to be delivering its services to more than 800 buildings across the five major metros with a customer base that includes HBO Films, Lyft, Zappos, Mozilla and Foursquare.

The Webpass purchase comes amid a continuing bid by Alphabet to broaden Google Fiber's footprint. Earlier this month, the company announced that it has begun discussions with Dallas city officials to see if it can bring Fiber to the city sometime in the next couple of years. The service, which is available to customers at a monthly Internet-only price of $70, is already available in six cities, including Provo, Utah; Atlanta; Nashville; and Kansas City.

It is deploying Fiber in another four cities and is in the exploratory stages in another 12.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.