Last week, GoogleWiFi, the free city-wide wireless network, was made publicly available to everyone in Mountain View. All you need is a Google account and you can sign-in to get free WiFi almost everywhere in the city. A coverage map that shows the locations of all the access points is available. Google Secure Access, a simple VPN client, is also provided as an optional download to encrypt data on the channel.

I couldn't blog about this earlier, but I've been using the network for a couple of months now as part of an internal test, and it's been working very well, except for a day or two of downtime. Since the access points are attached to lamp posts all over the city, the signal strength can be quite low indoors. Our solution was to use a pair of Linksys WRT54G routers that we had lying around - one with the official Linksys firmware, and the other with the Sveasoft firmware that enables Client Mode. The router running in client mode is placed near a window, and the antennae pick up the signal from the nearest GoogleWiFi access point. The second router is connected to the first one via an ethernet cable, and runs in regular AP mode to provide wireless access to all the machines in the apartment. :)

This is a great first step from Google, and I'd love to see more companies joining in the effort to make basic internet connectivity ubiquitous.