Google to take another shot at a free Wi-Fi business

Chocolate Factory takes a trip in the self-driving DeLorean


Google side-project Sidewalk Labs is buying the companies running New York's LyncNYC project that offers public Wi-Fi from payphones, in the hope of one day achieving World DominationTM.

It's not the Chocolate Factory's first free Wi-Fi in New York – that honour goes to the free zone around its Chelsea offices – but this time the project will be citywide.

If you've just done a deja-vu double-take, you're not alone: nearly a decade back, the Chocolate Factory put money into Meraki, whose promo pitch was its San Francisco wireless network. History doesn't, however, stop the project being hailed as a moonshot.

The New York City rollout is pitched by Sidewalk as being the first step in a plan for world domination. It'll involve 10,000 access points from which the new venture, Intersection, will provide access (and Google will merely see what you do and where you go).

Sidewalk CEO and chairman-designate of Intersection, the company formed by Sidewalk acquiring LinkNYC partners Control Group and Titan, says the project will mean “you can walk down any street and access free ultra-speed Wi-Fi” (the canned statement can be viewed here).

The venture is bringing existing LinkNYC suppliers Qualcomm and Comark (the latter specialising in outdoor-hardening the kit) along for the ride.

El Reg can't help but wonder how a plan to let city smartphone users the world over bypass mobile carriers will sit with the same carriers it hopes will be kind and lend it spectrum for its Project Loon balloon-based broadband. ®

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