Google Fiber plans to bring its Webpass service to Seattle, adding a new gigabit Internet alternative in a city that has struggled for years to expand access to super-high-speed broadband.
The plan, revealed in a job listing, would bring Google’s wireless option to Seattle’s dense urban center where creating a new physical fiber network can be expensive and impractical.
Google Fiber acquired Webpass last year. Unlike Google Fiber’s core offering, Webpass uses a network of antennas and ethernet to beam high-speed internet into multi-tenant homes, via a fixed antenna on top of a building. The company solves Google Fiber’s expensive last-mile delivery problem by eliminating the need to physically lay cables.
Webpass also taps into a market that Google Fiber has struggled to reach: apartment buildings. In a blog post last month, Google said the service is available for buildings with 10 or more units and Ethernet wiring. In dense urban areas such as Seattle, running cable to every building is expensive, making it a tough sell. Webpass’ wireless capabilities provide a cheaper option, which could be what Seattle needs to upgrade its internet.
Seattle has a difficult history with fiber internet service. In 2015, the City Council voted against a project that would lay down a government-owned fiber network in the city, expanding beyond existing “dark fiber” in the city. In 2016, Mayor Ed Murray said the city was considering a public-private partnership on fiber.
“I certainly welcome any new companies to the market because there’s not enough competition right now,” said Devin Glaser, policy and political director of municipal-broadband advocacy group Upgrade Seattle. “I think we all know that we’re paying way too much for way too little, so bringing another company in could definitely help that.”
Wave and CenturyLink offer gigabit Internet service in Seattle, and Comcast has said it plans to roll out gigabit service in the city early this year.
The Webpass job listing, for a general manager in Seattle, doesn’t detail when the area could expect to see the Webpass internet service launch. It does, however, emphasize speed in the rollout, calling for candidates willing to “double down.”
“You’ll have the opportunity to define your role and play a significant part in launching our newest market,” the listing reads. “Come be apart of something that is in demand, growing quickly, and provides an innovative alternative Internet solution to the Seattle market!”
Webpass, which launched in San Francisco, has already expanded to San Diego, Miami, Chicago, and Boston.
GeekWire contacted both Google and Webpass for more details on the Seattle plans.