Technology

Comcast, AT&T take note: Google Fiber finds way to Miami – via acquisition

Atlanta officials and Google Fiber officials announced announce the launch of Google Fiber in Atlanta last year, along with plans for Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Nashville, but not Miami.
Atlanta officials and Google Fiber officials announced announce the launch of Google Fiber in Atlanta last year, along with plans for Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Nashville, but not Miami. AP

Google Fiber is coming to Miami after all – but by way of an acquisition.

In the race for speed with AT&T, Combast and other carriers, Google Fiber, the high-speed internet service expanding in some parts of the country, announced it is purchasing San Francisco-based internet service provider Webpass. Webpass services residential buildings in the Miami area. Webpass CEO Charles Barr said the deal is expected to be sealed this summer; terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Google Fiber has been expanding nationally – laying new fiber as it goes – but expansion has been slower than expected. The challenger to Comcast and AT&T has already been offering $70 to $80 a month 1 gigabit-per-second service in Kansas City, Nashville, Austin, Atlanta and Provo, Utah – lower than its larger competitors – but Google Fiber disappointed fans in Miami when the area wasn’t in its near-term expansion plans for about 20 cities. However, executives of Google-parent Alphabet signaled earlier this year that it would be looking for other ways to expand faster, including technologies pairing its fiber with wireless technologies and through acquisitions.

That’s where Webpass comes in. Using point-to-point wireless service to businesses, apartments and condos in the Miami area as well as San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego and Boston, Webpass, founded in 2003 and said to have more than 20,000 customers nationwide, beams service to a fixed antennae on the building and then runs cables throughout.

Webpass entered the Miami market in 2013. A service representative said the company services a number of buildings from Midtown Miami to Brickell, as well as Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Aventura, Sunny Isles and other locations. One can enter the building address on its website, webpass.net, to find out if there is availability. Prices are currently $550 a year or $65 a month, and a Google Fiber spokesperson told Wired that the current pricing and branding would stay the same.

“By joining forces, we can accelerate the deployment of super-fast internet connections for customers across the U.S.,” Barr said in a blog post.

In the race for speed in South Florida, AT&T and Comcast have been duking it out, along with players such as Atlantic Broadband in Miami Beach and Hotwire Communications, another provider specializing in multi-family communities. Over the past year, AT&T GigaPower has begun rolling out 1-gigabit-per-second service and Comcast launched availability of 2-gig speeds in areas of South Florida.

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