A First Look at Google Fiber at Starbucks

Today I ended up at Starbucks and there was a new WiFi network called “Google Starbucks”. I had just seen news about Google’s replacing of AT&T in Starbucks, but I didn’t think it was going to start until August.

The service is called “Google Fiber” in the terms of service, and it seems that it might be powered by Level3 in areas where Google Fiber isn’t available.

Update: There is a serious problem with the WiFi. SSH and SFTP access appear to be blocked:

$ ssh@nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn
ssh: connect to host nnn.nnn.nnn. port 22: No route to host

I hope this is a temporary glitch, because this would make Starbucks nearly useless for accessing the Internet. If you intend to use SSH/SFTP, check to see if it works before spending money. You could connect over non-secure port 21 if you want to live dangerously, but port 22 doesn’t work.

Speed

Since I’m in East Bay, and I don’t think that Google Fiber is here yet, I first assumed that it was using Level3’s service. The IP address seems to belong to “United States Atlanta AT&T Mobility Llc” though.

The speed seems about normal for this area–not very good.

  • Ping: 78 ms
  • Download: 3.58 Mbps
  • Upload: 11..39 Mbps

Bugs

I only noticed two bugs in my first use of Google’s WiFi service at Starbucks:

Freenode and SASL

I use Pidgin to connect to IRC channels on Freenode. Freenode is telling me that I need “to identify via SASL to use this server”. Freenode has a page about that here.

When there are repeated problems with abuse or anti-social behavior from an IP range, and the users on that IP range seem to have the ability to rapidly change between many different IPs, freenode is left with the uncomfortable choices of completely blocking access to the entire range, doing nothing, or turning to SASL. If nothing is done, many large channels may end up blocking entire ISPs and countries, perhaps for an extended time. SASL allows freenode to avoid a complete block while still mitigating potential abuse.

This is annoying, but understandable.

Gmail Connection Problem

One of my connections to Gmail from Thunderbird was refused by Google. I got an email from Google that said:

Someone recently used your password to try to sign in to your Google Account ******@gmail.com. This person was using an application such as an email client or mobile device.

We prevented the sign-in attempt in case this was a hijacker trying to access your account. Please review the details of the sign-in attempt:

Thursday, July 24, 2014 10:32:07 PM UTC
IP Address: ***.***.***.*** (mobile-***-***-***-***.mycingular.net)
Location: Pecan Grove, TX, USA

This is very strange, because the login attempt happened about five hours before the timestamp in the email that Google sent me. It was somewhere around 5:30pm, Texas time zone, not 10:32pm.

Other than that, the service seems fine so far. It’s difficult to tell whether it’s still running on AT&T under Google’s name or if Google is running it under AT&T’s name. In any case, the problem of certain websites being blocked at Starbucks is gone now.

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6 thoughts on “A First Look at Google Fiber at Starbucks”

  1. Google WiFi’s twitter account claims that they’re not blocking SSH, but I had to get a Witopia VPN account to restore SSH access to my machine when my local Starbucks switched from attwifi to Google WiFi very recently. As far as you know, are you still having this problem? Google WiFi thinks I’m crazy.

  2. If you send me a link to your Tweet, I could send them a follow-up Tweet with a live screenshot to let them know that other people are having the same problem.

  3. SSH is certainly still blocked for me. My Starbucks just switched to Google Wifi, which is much faster and more reliable. But SSH is completely blocked.

  4. Where are you guys located? I’m wondering if it’s happening in many places.

    (I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area.)

  5. Wow — from the Southeast, Starbucks have completely blocked SSH down here.

    Ridiculous — apparently, we’re all doing more harm and damage than someone else streaming a 1GB movie.

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