Editor’s Note: A press release was sent out this morning with the details of what appeared to be an acquisition of a wireless company called ICOA by Google. Almost immediately after the news was posted, TNW noted spelling errors and lack of corroboration by Google as evidence that something was fishy about it. We had reached out immediately for confirmation but did not have it at the time of publishing.
It turns out that the release was false and was quickly denied by ICOA reps and shot down by our sources at Google. In an effort to bring you the news as quickly as possible, we reported news here today that was inaccurate, and for that, we apologize.
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Update: In an interesting twist, All Things D is citing a Google source as claiming that this deal hasn’t happened. We’re looking into this and will update with more information as soon as we have it.
In a move that could expand its broadband presence beyond its Fiber project, wireless Internet network provider ICOA announced today it has been acquired by Google for $400 million, a deal that will see the Internet giant “further diversify its already impressive portfolio of companies.”
ICOA provides wireless and wired networks in high-traffic public locations in the US, adding WiFi hotspot zones to airports, restaurants, universities, travel plazas, and many other public venues. As part of the deal, Google is set to pick up 1,500 of ICOA’s broadband access installations across 45 US states.
It’s an interesting move for Google, especially considering the deployment of its Google Fiber project in Kansas (offering speeds 100 times faster than the average Internet connection in the US), and the search giant’s existing partnerships with public WiFi hotspot provider Boingo.
Throughout 2012, Google has worked with Boingo to offer consumers free Wi-Fi at more than 4,000 hotspots across America as part of a collaboration with Google Play. The hotspots were available for all Android users, as well as those running OS X or a Windows computer in hotels, cafes, recreational areas and other “high-traffic locations” across the country.
Now, it will provide some of the services for the company it once partnered with.
Tucked away on ICOA’s website is a small page dedicated to advertising. ICOA boasts over 500,000 logins a month from users of its hotspots and offers businesses a chance to advertise on its “portal and landing pages.” Is Google’s advertising business going to add another market to its Adwords product?
Today’s deal sees Google take over a company that installs, manages and scales wireless networks all over the US. There’s no word on whether the search giant intends to offer paid services of its own or will license its technology and infrastructure out to companies like Boingo.
We have contacted Google for comment and will update once we receive a response.
Image Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty