from the keep-your-enemies-closer dept
Back in February Google announced that the company would be deploying 1 Gbps fiber to the home connections for a lucky community or two. Google's plan is to create a playground to test next-generation ad delivery and to explore fiber deployment options. The announcement has been nothing short of a PR miracle for Google -- the resulting clamor created by the thousands of cities eager to be the target market has kept the Google brand consistently present in the media every single day since and all without a single byte being delivered. The network itself will operate under an open access model, with Google inviting ISPs to come in and compete, and this week Google's Minnie Ingersoll extended an invitation to Comcast and AT&T to participate:
"We (sic) definitely inviting the Comcasts, the AT&T service providers to work with us on our network, and to provide their service offering on top of our pipe -- we're definitely planning on doing that. Our general attitude has been that there's plenty of room for innovation right now in the broadband space, and it's great what the cable companies are doing, upgrading to DOCSIS 3.0, but no one company has a monopoly on innovation. We're looking for other service providers to be able to come in and offer their service on top of our network so that residents have a choice when they open up their accounts. They get the connection from us, and then they have a choice as to who they subscribe to."
While that's sweet of Google, it's unclear that the nation's wealthiest carriers will want to come over and play today. These are companies who spend millions of dollars each year lobbying to eliminate competition of any kind -- and probably aren't keen to participate in a trial designed (in part) to highlight how competition keeps prices low, keeps service quality high -- and organically limits network neutrality violations. The nation's wealthiest carriers already disliked Google for the company's positions on everything from network neutrality to white space broadband. They, of course, see (correctly) that products like Google Voice pose a serious disruptive threat to traditional cash cows, and these carriers spend a lot of time smearing Google by using outsourced policy wonks.
These same carriers will probably feel even less cooperative after being subjected to several months of national coverage with one central theme: they aren't providing the broadband speeds or prices people want. Keep in mind too that part of this network's purpose will be to collect a mountain of data -- the kind of data these carriers don't like to share (congestion, bandwidth delivery costs, etc.) all of which will be useful to Google in their political battles against these same operators. While Google has repeatedly stated they aren't interested in being an ISP or in expanding this project beyond 50,000 to 500,000 users -- this new network (whenever it actually gets built) might be a more suitable playground for smaller ISPs; smaller ISPs eager to show what open access and competition can really do for a community in an environment free of the influence of the usual assortment of monopoly/duopoly carriers.