Google Fiber Acquires Webpass in Bid to Compete with Cable Providers; And Other News


Google Fiber Acquires Webpass in Bid to Compete with Cable Providers

Google Fiber recently announced that it is acquiring Webpass, an internet service provider that is headquartered in San Francisco. This means that Google Fiber-based internet services will be supported and bolstered by an experienced commercial provider of gigabit internet. Webpass is well positioned to help Google’s ambitious municipal fiber projects continue to expand. The deal, the price of which still has yet to be disclosed, should prove to be a major boon to Google Fiber’s Bay Area rollout and give it a helpful advantage in competing against other established internet service providers.

Webpass founder and president Charles Barr said: “By joining forces, we can accelerate the deployment of super-fast internet connections for customers across the US. Webpass will remain focused on rapid deployment of high speed Internet connections for residential and commercial buildings, primarily using point to point wireless.”

Webpass was founded in 2003 by Barr and specializes in supplying ethernet-based fiber connections to enterprises. Its enterprise clients are largely based in 4 major US markets outside of its hometown, including San Diego, Chicago, Boston, and Miami. Webpass boasts over 20,000 consumers and also provides residential gigabit internet in select areas.

Barr also noted that “Webpass will continue to grow its service in current operational cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, San Diego, Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Chicago, and Boston, adding to Google Fiber’s growing list of operational cities.”

Google Fiber commented that the company did not currently have intentions to build out its own fiber network and would instead leverage existing fiber networks, for example, by leasing the municipal fiber networks of the cities it operates in.

FCC Chairman Declares that 5G Leadership is a National Priority

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, in anticipation of the upcoming “Spectrum Frontiers” proceedings slated to take place in July, announced that America’s 5G leadership was central to the nation’s future. Alluding to the usual use cases for 5G technology, which include the internet of things and virtual reality (or augmented reality), Wheeler affirmed that the FCC would circulate a petition among its members to pass updated rules that would free up wireless spectrum support.

The vote will take place on July 14, and will consider solidifying spectrum support across the gamut of low to high spectrum bands, in order to enable IoT and VR in a variety of use cases.

Wheeler argued that cloud computing would be central to innovation in the 21st century: “The driving force of the 21st century will be powerful processing centralized in the cloud and wirelessly connected to thin clients. Autonomous vehicles will be controlled in the cloud. Smart-city energy grids, transportation networks and water systems will be controlled in the cloud. Immersive education and entertainment will come from the cloud. Such futures, however, won’t come to pass unless the pathway to the cloud is low-latency, ultra-fast and secure.”

The most crucial issues in terms of freeing up spectrum support arise on the higher end of the spectrum, which Wheeler noted “huge swaths of spectrum for super-fast data rates with low latency, and are now becoming unlocked because of technological advances in computing and antennas.”

High-frequency bands will require and be supported by small cell deployments, which will provide the coverage and capacity for those bands. Small cells are due to benefit from advanced antenna arrays which can boost the signals they emit. Beyond small cell deployments, satellites may also be used to provide spectrum in the 28 GHz band to the market. Currently the federal government utilizes a significant portion of satellite-supplied spectrum.

“Unlike some countries, we do not believe we should spend the next couple of years studying what 5G should be, how it should operate and how to allocate spectrum, based on those assumptions. Turning innovators loose is far preferable to expecting committees and regulators to define the future,” Wheeler said. “We won’t wait for the standards to be first developed in the sometimes arduous standards-setting process or in a government-led activity. Instead, we will make ample spectrum available and then rely on a private sector-led process for producing technical standards best suited for those frequencies and use cases.”

With regard to backhaul support, wider access to both wired and wireless backhaul channels will be necessary as well as improved cybersecurity measures.

“If the commission approves my proposal next month, the United States will be the first country in the world to open up high-band spectrum for 5G networks and applications,” Wheeler said. “And that’s damn important because it means U.S. companies will be first out of the gate. We will be repeating the proven formula that made the United States the world leader in 4G. It’s a simple formula: Lead the world in spectrum availability, encourage and protect innovation-driving competition and stay out of the way of technological development.”

Samsung and Intel Team Up On IoT Strategy

Samsung recently announced that it would invest a whopping $1.2 billion in American IoT-affiliated research, development, and investment. In addition, it has made public its intentions to partner with Intel in developing counsel and recommendations for a national IoT strategy, in what the pair are calling “The National IoT Strategy Dialogue.” The stated aim of this project is to coordinate relevant stakeholders, industry partners, and organizations in collaboration and dialogue to generate recommendations for US policy makers on a wide range of issues.

Samsung noted that, “Among its focus areas, the National IoT Strategy Dialogue will act as a convener and lay the foundation for industry to develop strategic policy recommendations to drive U.S. IoT infrastructure investment; facilitate interoperability; foster security; promote voluntary, industry-led global consensus-based standards and best practices; leverage public-private partnerships; and enable IoT innovation to flourish.”

The initiative’s inception was intentionally set to coincide with the Department of Commerce’s IoT proceedings and the pending “Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act” which seeks to create a working group of federal agency leaders to propose recommendations on how to foster and establish IoT in America.

Samsung’s press release also noted that such a move had long been called for by tech industry leaders: “The launch of this new IoT initiative answers the call of a chorus of technology leaders seeking a forum to proactively coordinate and drive industry’s role in this process and help policymakers enable the U.S. to fully realize the vast benefits of IoT for economic and societal good.”

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