Google Acquires Hotspot Provider Icoa UPDATE

Google is already sponsoring free WiFi at thousands of locations in the US

Google is always acquiring new companies, but in most cases it's about the employees rather than the business or the product.

The company's latest acquisition though is a bit different, Google has acquired ICOA Inc. – a relatively small company that provides WiFi internet at various public locations in the US.

While the connection to Google Fiber is the most immediate, this isn't about expanding Google's ISP business. Instead, this is about free WiFi, something the company already knows quite a bit about.

Google has been offering free WiFi at thousands of locations, sponsoring it with local offers, ads, or campaigns for its Chromebooks or the Play Store. Google has been partnering with Boingo for this, one of Icoa's rivals, for this.

Google's goal has always been to get more people online, more internet users means more money from advertising. That's the idea behind Android and behind most of Google's other products.

It's invested many billions into Android, so the $400 million, €308.5 million it's paying for Icoa isn't a huge sum. The plan probably is to develop a business through free but ad-supported WiFi.

Better WiFi coverage also means less reliance on carriers, something Google would very much like to achieve.

Update: Icoa is denying that there's been acquisition or any talk of it, despite the earlier press release announcing the deal.

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