After a beta period chock-full of Skype use among the nerd-elite, Google has finally opened up their free WiFi network to the 72,000 residents of Mountain View, CA. Speculation still abounds in regards to Google's eventual plans for world domination via municipal WiFi, but for now they claim their main reasons are to inspire other network providers, and so they can work on interoperability with WiFi devices. Google is a bit ahead of schedule with the network, which cost them $1 million to build, and covers 12 square miles with 380 light pole-mounted transceivers. Bandwidth tops out at 1 megabit per second, and Google is prepped to add more capacity if Mountain View types end up being heavy YouTube Google Video users. Google says their early launch was spurred by the positive feedback they received during the beta, and that they've been inundated with requests to join. There's no telling yet how Google's Mountain View network will compare to the relatively massive Google/Earthlink plans in San Francisco, especially since they're probably hoping to make a bit of cash back on the latter, but for now Google is at least requiring a Google ID to join the party in their hometown of Mountain View.

[Via GigaOM]

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Google busts out free WiFi for public in Mountain View