Google Adds WiFi to Cell Towers for Location

Google has added a Wifi hotspot database to cell-tower triangulation for greater coverage and accuracy. This means that Google’s MyLocation capability will be better and more accurate but anyone (site developer/publisher) using the the Geolocation API (via Gears) also gets the benefit too. 

According to the Google Code Blog:

When we originally proposed the Gears Geolocation API our goal was to make it easy for developers to deliver location enabled web sites on mobile phones. However we realized laptop users would benefit from location enabled web sites too. Today we are adding WiFi signals to the Geolocation API so that laptop users can benefit from location enabled web sites for the first time and mobile users from the increased accuracy. And because the Geolocation API is the same for developers in both desktop and mobile browsers you can even use the same code on both platforms!

In Chrome and Android, with Gears built in, you can deliver a location enabled web site without requiring your users to install a plug-in, but in other browsers they will need to go through a simple plug-in install process. We also submitted a simplified version of the Geolocation API as a WC3 specification and the upcoming Firefox 3.1 plans to support the W3C version directly. The Gears Geolocation API is completely free to developers and users through the default Google location provider.

Firefox 3.1 has location (from Skyhook Wireless) and Chrome will too. Right now the Geolocation API requires end users to have Google Gears installed to work.

9 Responses to “Google Adds WiFi to Cell Towers for Location”

  1. martijn Says:

    with now over 1 million Fon hotspots all over the world wouldn’t be to surprised if they’d hook up to their database as well. (the fon hotspots are already publicly listed on the fon website..)

  2. AustinTX Says:

    Martijn, not even Fon is claiming to have 1M hotspots. They claim to have between “nearly 300k” and “over 400k” depending on whether you ask their PR department, or their CEO. Their CEO also misquotes the price of a access on the Fon network at $2/day, when it has always been $3.

    Fon’s recent “1M” debacle has been about their membership. Members are those who contribute a hotspot to the network, in return for “free roaming” and a small share of the profit on rare occasion. However, Fon decided to add “Aliens”, who are customers who pay for access, to the definition of a “member”.

    Fon’s hotspots provide a free trial connection to anyone who takes a moment to register, and provide an email address. This information is not verified first, and anything which looks like an email is accepted. Fon also deliberately operates as though they have no churn, so the numbers only go up. Every garbage string collected this way is presented as though it is yet another active, satisfied repeat customer.

    Thus, every Fon hotspot is a harvesting machine for “email addresses” which count as “members” when presented to The Press and investors. When well-meaning folks like you repeat misinformation, Fon will make no effort to straighten things out.

  3. AustinTX Says:

    I should make it clear that the definition of a “member” was recently changed by Fon, so that they could make that questionable “1M members” claim.

    I also forgot to mention that FrancoFon is an organization which develops 3rd-party enhancements for Fon’s router firmware. It also operates an alternate “map” of Fon hotspots. They survey the entire earth once a day to determine how many hotspot there are, and how many are actually active. Their survey indicates that only about 100k hotspots are operational. There is no possibility of finding out whether those hotspots are even in accesible locations, or have ever had a customer. However, virtually every Fon hotspot that has ever been registered, is still on their official, even if the hotspot has been dead for 2 years or more!

  4. martijn Says:

    thanks for clearing that up. I wasn’t aware of their misuse of numbers. Actually I am a Fon hotspot owner myself. actually, I ordered 5 of the devices because they had a good offer. All I read was just one press release and to me there was no more reason to investigate any further.
    bottom line still is, there is still a whopping 100.000 wifi hotspots known only of Fon as a hotspot provider. To me that sounds like quite a thorough database.

  5. Location in the Browser: What Does It Mean? Says:

    […] location-awareness technologies (i.e., GPS) and Google’s cell-tower database (which has been expanded now to include WiFi locations). However it also works for destkop browsers, provided that Gears is installed on the […]

  6. unsecured wifi Says:

    As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me.

  7. derek Says:

    i am a realestate owner and would like to know about leasing roof sights on my properties for WIFI towers in un covered areas of New York city

  8. cell phone guru Says:

    cell phone guru…

    […]Google Adds WiFi to Cell Towers for Location « Screenwerk[…]…

  9. Donald King Says:

    i believe you can just put them on your property. Check with zoning requirements in your city first though.

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