Google and ICOA, a company that provides Wi-Fi to public locations, have denied plans for a $400 million acquisition that was reported this morning in a press release that appeared to be from ICOA. The deal sounded like another serious move for Google on top of its Google Fiber experiment in Kansas City and its partnership with Boingo that provides free Wi-Fi hotspot service in several locations, and discounted services in airports in the US. ICOA has confirmed to The Verge that that the press release is false, and sources at Google have confirmed that the company has not purchased ICOA.
In an email to The Verge, ICOA writes that the press release was "a hoax," and that the company is investigating the source (which currently appears to be Aruba). The company says it has never had any discussions with potential acquirers, and speculates that "a stock promoter with a dubious interest" may be behind the PR. ICOA CEO George Strouthopoulous told The Wall Street Journal that "I wish I was in a conversation with Google, believe me, and I'd take much less than $400 million." Strouthopoulous tells The Verge that PRWeb, the company that originally released the acquisition notice, has promised to retract the release, but as of the time of this writing it is still available.
Update: An earlier version of this story indicated that ICOA announced a $400 million acquisition by Google that would have included the wireless company's Wi-Fi hotspots in states around the US. Since that story appeared, Google and ICOA have denied the claims. We have requested comment from Google and ICOA regarding the situation and will update you as we receive more information on how the false acquisition release was produced.
Update 2: PRWeb has released a statement on the press release, claiming that the release was fraudulent, and that it was not issued or authorized by ICOA. PRWeb indicates that someone may have impersonated an ICOA representative, writing that "even with reasonable safeguards identity theft occurs, on occasion, across all of the major wire services."