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Google Fiber-owned Webpass is bringing its wireless gigabit internet to Denver

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Gigabit speeds delivering without fiber

Photo: Webpass

Webpass, a San Francisco-based internet provider now owned by Google Fiber, announced today it would expand to the Denver, Colorado market. This marks Webpass’ first new market since Google Fiber, itself owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Access division, acquired the company back in June of 2016.

What makes Webpass important for Google Fiber’s future plans is how it delivers internet at speeds of up to 1 Gbps. Instead of laying fiber optic cable, a costly and time-consuming process that can involve tireless negotiations with local municipalities, Webpass delivers gigabit speeds using a mixture of existing wireless and Ethernet technologies.

Broadly speaking, Webpass beams its internet through a central antenna typically located on the top of an apartment building, which is why it only makes its services available to buildings with 10 or more units or, in some cases, 30 or more units. By tackling apartment buildings instead of entire neighborhoods of homes, Webpass is also able to wrestle away deals from large telecoms that usually try to lock in apartment complexes with multi-year contracts.

So it’s more clear now why Google Fiber bought Webpass in the first place, and why the latter company is the one doing the expanding. Fiber, as part of Alphabet’s Access, has suffered from a slow rollout across the country and rising costs. As part of a cost-cutting process initiated by Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat, divisions like Fiber, smart appliance maker Nest, and the moonshot-oriented X have been hit with executive reshuffles, budget cuts, layoffs, and even shut downs.

Access lost around 9 percent of its workforce back in October, including its CEO Craig Barratt, who was only just replaced last week. Alongside the layoffs, Access also announced it would “pause” plans to launch fiber internet in nine new markets. It looks like Webpass now holds more promise for Google Fiber’s ambitions than the division’s original premise of laying its own cable.

Webpass now has job listings in the Seattle area, first noticed by GeekWire yesterday, and announced last month that it’s working with the Google Fiber team to expand its services in existing markets to more apartment buildings.