February 12, 2010
Google Wants to be Your ISP
Yes it does. No it doesn't. More on this below. Google has announced that it intends to build a 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connection reaching between 50,000 and 500,000 individuals. The announcement and associated FAQ describe the proposed network as a proof-of-concept that such things are possible and consumer desirable. Here's what Google says:
- 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.
I'm not sure what Google's intentions really are other than what it states in it's post. I can hazard a few guesses, however. What drives the first two stated concepts is idealistic fluff. Nothing less could come from the "Don't Be Evil" company. We're doing it for the world. There's nothing wrong with that. The only telecom that has bought into the fiber to the home strategy is Verizon, and it's very successful for what it is. 50 Mbps downstream and 25Mbps upstream surely beat At&T with their top speed DSL at around 6 Mbps. Cable providers such as Comcast (or is it Xfinity now) can go beyond AT&T but in the case of Comcast, at least, there are issues of data caps and speed reductions lurking in the background. Other cable providers (Time Warner cable comes to mind) have been fooling around with data caps as well in test cities. The Internet is too congested So say the providers, We'll be reaching capacity any moment ago. We have to do this to preserve access to all customers and not the bandwidth hogs. We'll also have to block certain applications at times because they congest the network, such as P2P. Oh, and did you know that P2P transmissions are the source of some of the most egregious copyright violations on the web? Than you'll realize what a public service ISPs provide to the law abiding public.
All these good intentions sometimes have fallen afoul of the FCC under both Kevin Martin and Julius Genachowski. Martin had the audacity to fine Comcast for blocking P2P without letting its customers know what was going on. Comcast complied with the Commission but a challenge is pending in court. Genachowski has the audacity to actually tray and write the rules for network neutrality into something more than a footnote to a policy statement. A court result favoring Comcast would surely scuttle the authority for Genachowski'plan. Though Congress is in the hands of the Democrats, it may still be difficult to pass a bill to authorize the FCC to write explicit rules on network neutrality. On that basis, the regulatory process to implement network neutrality will be slow, if at all.
One more note on this is that companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Netflix, and virtually any company that has a popular web site that uses tremendous amounts of bandwidth are in favor of network neutrality because their product could be limited by telecom efforts to charge them for better transport to customers. Let's see if we can make the web into cell phones, where where both sides pay for the same transmission. This is only possible because telecoms and the like control the networks and have common interests in the the way networks are managed. There are the stockholders to think of, after all. It takes a lot of capital to build a network. Enter Google.
Google has always had a disruptive presence in the markets they enter. Let's scan books and see what happens. For everyone claiming that Congress should be the one to set the rules for copyright and e-books, well, sure. But Congress moves too slow. Let's scan and see what happens. Let's distribute user created video on the web and see what happens. Certainly Viacom and other content providers took a dim view of users taking parts of their content. They have a legitimate beef, but it's too inconvenient for the content providers to sue the individuals as provided for in the DMCA. So let's sue Google. That case is still out, nowhere close to a jury. So far no one's blinking. So rather than be held hostage to the Internet backbone providers, Google is showing that it can build its own network if it has to, and it can be better and faster than what's out there.
The curious phrase in their third statement is "giving users the choice of multiple service providers." What is a service in that context? Is that AT&T and their DSL customers or is it someone with a Facebook, or Yahoo account. If so, that says Google plans to start building a backbone that runs along the principles of net neutrality whether it is legally mandated or not. Or putting in another way, some day we might not need AT&T if its version of the Internet impinges on Google's business practices. FYI, the companies are not fans of each other. Trade groups on both sides of the policy issues are mixed on the reaction. While no one has come out and said this is a bad idea, the telecoms can't be thrilled that they are getting competition, and from Google at that. Google doesn't think the way they do.
One point that comes up when Google gets involved in a new venture is to say that Google expects to own the world some day. Is that a good idea, or we should resist Google. It's valid to explore those thoughts, but that's for another post. In the mean time, I'm drooling over the thought of 1 Gbps Internet access. If Google is trying to take over the world, they make it so darn hard to resist. [MG]
Its great. Google is showing that it can build its own network if it has to, and it can be better and faster than what's out there.
Posted by: cheap computers | Feb 23, 2010 11:41:11 AM