Google says its public WiFi gets heavy use

August 24, 2007, 1:01 PM UTC

Google’s (GOOG) free public WiFi network in its hometown of Mountain View, Calif. is getting heavy use after its first year in service, the company said. The service has 15,000 active monthly users across the 12-square-mile coverage area, and the usage is spread out: 95 percent of Google’s mesh routers see some action on any given day.

Since the beginning of this year, traffic on the network has grown about 10 percent each month, the company said, and the network now handles more than 300 gigabytes of data each day.

Google seems to have released the numbers, in part, to help its other wireless efforts along. The company said in a statement:

Around the globe and across the U. S., many people are still not able to access the online services that are increasingly helpful, if not essential, tools for our daily lives. This is why we’re committed to promoting alternative platforms for people to access the web, no matter where you are, what you’re doing or what device you’re using.

For those who have been following the effort to create a free wireless network in San Francisco, we continue to hope that EarthLink (ELNK) and The City will find a way to enable all San Franciscans to enjoy the free WiFi network they deserve. On a broader scale, we hope that the success of the Mountain View model will encourage others to think creatively about how to address access issues in many other communities.

Google’s wireless efforts are probably of interest to cities that have launched similar municipal WiFi projects. They are also watched by carriers such as AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ), which have at times viewed public WiFi efforts as a threat to their business models.