Google Fiber is buying high-speed ISP Webpass, aims for faster rollout

Google to gain access to fiber and wireless networks in five major US markets.

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Webpass offers internet service in several cities across the US.

Image: Webpass

Google Fiber is to acquire WebPass, a high-speed internet service provider for residential apartment buildings and businesses, for an undisclosed sum.

Google Fiber announced the plans on Wednesday, which will give it Webpass' combined fiber and rooftop wireless network in five major markets, including San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, Miami, Chicago, and, Boston.

Webpass offers speeds between 100Mbps and 1Gbps to business and residential customers. The ISP, which has about 80 employees, has connected over 800 buildings and has 20,000 subscribers nationwide. It counts among its business customers Zappos, Foursquare, Wordpress, Mozilla, HBO Films, Oracle Racing, and Lyft.

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"By joining forces, we can accelerate the deployment of superfast Internet connections for customers across the US. Webpass will remain focused on rapid deployment of high speed Internet connections for residential and commercial buildings, primarily using point-to-point wireless," said Webpass president and founder Charles Barr.

The companies expect the deal to close this summer, pending regulatory approval.

Google Fiber, a subsidiary of Google's parent Alphabet, announced plans earlier this year to launch its gigabit fiber service in San Francisco using existing fiber infrastructure to connect some residential apartments. The acquisition should accelerate its deployment in San Francisco, where Webpass has been expanding its combined fibre and wireless network over the past year.

Webpass was founded in 2003, launching first in San Francisco before expanding into other markets. San Francisco became the 11th city on Google Fiber's coverage map.

Webpass' combined wireless and fiber network broadly fits with Google's plan to connect wireless towers to existing fiber. Craig Barratt, CEO of Google Access, which oversees Google Fiber, told Recode recently that fixed wireless broadband would be ideal for lower-density areas, where laying fiber becomes too expensive.

Webpass' point-to-point wireless on the other hand is for high-density areas and it only provides services to buildings with 10 or more units. As noted by Ars Technica, the firm buys backhaul from exchange providers, and delivers signals wirelessly to antennas on rooftops. Subscribers access the internet through a standard Ethernet cable.

Read more about Google Fiber