Google Fiber launches its first wireless gigabit project

A Denver apartment is hooking up with the Webpass system.

Webpass (Facebook)

A Denver apartment complex is the first to get gigabit internet speeds from Google via its wireless Webpass service rather than Fiber. Webpass specializes in multi-unit internet service using point-to-point wireless tech instead of cables. The company already offers its services in Boston, Chicago, Miami, San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco (above), but Denver is the first new city since Google acquired it last year.

Webpass uses a combination of fiber optics, wireless and ethernet tech. It transmits high-speed cable via rooftop antennas, and the signal is then captured at installation sites (with ten or more units) and distributed to individual apartments via eithernet.

Google is having problems building out infrastructure in Fiber cities like Nashville, thanks to red tape issues and entrenched utilities that aren't exactly cooperating. Consequently, it recently announced it would halt expansion plans and lay off about nine percent of its Fiber workforce. It is reportedly looking instead at providing internet to communities wirelessly, and Webpass is a key part of that.

The company still has to get fiber lines to the antenna transmission sites, and the tech isn't economically feasible for single family homes. However, Webpass eliminates the need for "last mile" wiring so that Google needn't rely on utilities or rivals like AT&T for pole or underground right-of-way access. Google Fiber co-exists with Webpass in three US cities (Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco), which could allow for rapid expansion in those areas.

Google has posted job listings for a "General manager to launch our Seattle market," so Denver could be just a start for Webpass. Last month it revealed that six metro areas "may be eligible to use Webpass if their building has at least 10 units, and is wired with Ethernet cabling."