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February 14, 2014

Google, Microsoft Partner With Others to Expand Wi-Fi

A group of technology and Internet firms are teaming up to expand access to Wi-Fi networks.

Google, Microsoft, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Motorola, Best Buy and the Consumer Electronics Association to name a few have formed WifiForward to “to alleviate the Wi-Fi spectrum crunch and to support making Wi-Fi even better by finding more unlicensed spectrum.”

The coalition’s goal is to “add heft” to lobbying efforts in Washington to augment the allocation of airwaves that Wi-Fi relies on.  Network congestion is a problem as mobile usage grows — and with that mobile usage comes both audio and video streaming as well as apps that consume data like crazy.

Approximately 57 percent of all mobile data traffic in North America is presently supported by Wi-Fi, according to Cisco. In the next four years, that figure is expected to increase to 64 percent.

“All that data congests Wi-Fi networks, too, one of the reasons why WifiForward wants to free up more spectrum,” the group said in a press release.

“The focus on Wi-Fi is fueled in part by a belief that data plans offered by wireless carriers are too costly.”

Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside told The Wall Street Journal in December Smartphone data plans are too costly for the average middle class family in the U.S. These plans, he said, can costs hundreds of dollars more a month than home Internet service.

And, although increased competition among wireless carriers has caused all of the big firms to lower prices, increasing Smartphone adoption and growing data usage means higher bills.

“You’re not going to be able to afford four data plans and four of the highest priced phones for that family,” Woodside said.

The coalition is not just about helping the coneumer, however. It also of benefit to many of the companies.

Improving Internet access through Wi-Fi allows more Google and Microsoft users to access the companies’ online services, such as Google search and Bing which, in turn, increases ad revenue.

It could also boost Google’s own Wi-Fi offering. The technology titan supplies free Wi-Fi hot spots at more than 7,000 Starbucks and has built a Wi-Fi network covering Mountain View, Calif., where the company is headquartered.


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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