Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google and Fiber

In writing this I feel like the French after leaving Indochina telling the Americans that they are getting themselves into a swamp. You see we tried exactly what Google wants to do albeit with much less cash. We did have RUS backing, and even there we did not take a penny, because the swamp pulled us down before we had a chance. We started this broadband project after having achieved success in eastern Europe, in over a dozen countries. Yet nothing could prepare us for the towns, the very thing which makes America, can break America, they control the cable franchise boards. The River Styx is a better vacation spot!

Now on to Google, but remember we have the distinct disadvantage of experience.

Google today announced its intent to build fiber to the home in selected communities. They are asking for responses'

Specifically they state:

Google is planning to launch an experiment that we hope will make Internet access better and faster for everyone. We plan to test ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. Our networks will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We'll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

From now until March 26th, we're asking interested municipalities to provide us with information about their communities through a Request for information (RFI), which we'll use to determine where to build our network.

This is an interesting move. The question still is, what business is Google in and what business do they think they are in?

Adding a FTTH operation takes their Android gPhone and expands its to FTTH, a fixed platform. How does none monetize this opportunity, triple play, triple play plus.

If Google wants to "own" the customer, does this play into that hand? How would this change the value of Google as a stock and how much would this cost.

Here is what they say:

Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better, and faster for everyone. Here are some specific things that we have in mind:
  • Next generation apps: We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it's creating new bandwidth-intensive "killer apps" and services, or other uses we can't yet imagine.
  • New deployment techniques: We'll test new ways to build fiber networks; to help inform, and support deployments elsewhere, we'll share key lessons learned with the world.
  • Openness and choice: We'll operate an "open access" network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we'll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory, and transparent way.

Like our WiFi network in Mountain View, the purpose of this project is to experiment and learn. Network providers are making real progress to expand and improve high-speed Internet access, but there's still more to be done. We don't think we have all the answers – but through our trial, we hope to make a meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone.

This will be interesting to follow. It is also interesting that they are where we were almost ten years ago when we looked at municipal fiber. We detailed what their goals are over seven years ago, Also our town network plans detail what they are seeking. It is always good to see that it just took them eight years. Good luck!

I have read that cities like Seattle are interested also suggested was Cambridge, Mass. Well I do not know Seattle well, but we did the plan for Belmont, Mass, the town adjacent to Cambridge. We did it assuming cooperation with the power company. Even than it was a stretch. As for those Vermont towns, again we did many there and in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, walked every street, mapped and photographed every pole, spoke to thousands in determining interest, well those Vermont towns are good for cows but not economical for fiber.

And oh by the way, remember the franchise, some town cable board head will want your first born! We wrote extensively about the franchise problem. It is really an untenable issue that Goggle is lacking knowledge of. Will Goggle get a franchise. Yes, they will get it! All at a price, welcome to politics.....but you will learn that first hand I surmise.

And one last comment, my Indochina metaphor forgot the Vietcong, in this case they are the cable companies. If one thinks they will sit by and do nothing when this represents a clear and present danger then Google must truly be dreaming. The Vietcong won the War by tactics that just wore away their enemy. Add to that the NVA, the fortified war hardened troops from the north, and you will have a very formidable enemy. They will track you through the jungle, follow you through the tunnels, and you have little chance of winning. History has many repeats, and one should learn.