Or Will Broadband Competition Look Like.... Google?

from the and-then-there's-that dept

Just as we were getting ready to push out Derek's post about broadband competition, it looks like Google tossed a bit of a grenade into the mix, announcing plans to at least start trials of super high speed fiber-to-the-home networks in some areas. Of course, there have been rumors for years that Google might get into the internet access business. It had invested in a failed broadband-over-powerlines operation, and there had always been talk of a Google wireless solution -- but none of those seemed particularly serious (even Google's muni-WiFi experiment in its hometown of Mountain View has been somewhat half-hearted). So, it might be a bit early to look to Google to really dive in as a serious broadband competitor, but it certainly does raise some interesting questions.

From the very beginning we've been arguing that the real issue isn't about net neutrality, but about competition -- a point Derek reiterated -- and anything that drives more competition in the broadband space is a good thing. And, since Google monetizes internet access in many other areas, it doesn't need to be greedy about how it grants access to the pipes. But, even more interesting is that Google seems to realize that if you have a fiber to the home network at the infrastructure-level, the really interesting play is actually letting multiple service providers compete above that:
We will allow third-parties to offer their own Internet access services, or other services, using our network. We believe this approach will maximize user choice as well as spur greater innovation and competition. Most providers in Europe and many places elsewhere in the world operate open access networks. It will be open to any service provider, including incumbents and new entrants. "Open" means open.
By no means is it guaranteed that Google will be able to succeed in this market. In fact, I'd probably bet against it if you were laying odds. It's just a really tough business to be in, especially as a brand new entrant, and I'm not convinced that Google will focus enough on this to make it a success. But I hope I'm wrong. More serious entrants into the market would be a good thing, and Google's view on line-sharing is exactly right: it does tend to encourage greater innovation. So hopefully this is something that works in trials and gets expanded more widely.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    we are the borg.
    you will be assimilated.
    resistance is futile.

    Now go eat your google burger and drink your google cola and be quiet.

     

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    yozoo, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 11:59am

    Welcome to Washington

    If google wants to "really" get into the "cable" business they better get up to washington and start spreading around some cash. If not, I predict some legislation will come along to exclude them from the mix.

     

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    ant anit mike, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    It's just a really tough business to be in,

    STOP
    go anywhere and see what people want n USA and canada
    and this is it
    NOT CAPS
    NOT THROTTLING
    NOT UUB

    end of story google knows these other price gougers have a yacht building program they are addicted too and wont stop and will use all there power to prevent it.

    TO bad cause it will be a HUGE HIT all across north america

    people with integrity google has hired oh i dunno Jeremy allison th eguy that turned down a 50 million USD bribe for control of his work on SAMBA....

    yea more like rogers, tellus, bell, shaw, comcast , verizon , at&t are the borg

    and resistance isn't futile as star trek voyager showed the borg in future are defeated. ONCE again anti mikes stupidity and lack of true research EPICALLY FAILS
    should rename him self
    DIP SHIT
    OR TOTAL TARD

     

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      The Anti-Mike (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 3:37pm

      Re: It's just a really tough business to be in,

      I have to assume that english isn't your first language, or that you haven't finished 6th grade. I am hoping it's just a second or third language issue.

      Actually, Rogers, Bell, and Shaw are pretty much the borg of Canada. They have to many fingers in too many pies, and control everything from the distribution to the source material, and every step in between.

      Google is trying to go it to an even greater extent. They want to be the internet provider in all senses, from search to entertainment to operating systems to connectivity both wired and wireless. They want to be the borg, because they want to be part of everything you do all the time.

      You will be assimilated. You will become one with google, and share their hive mind.

      Google won't stop until the US government tells them to stop. They have the money and the market cap to spend a whole to lot to dominate any market they choose. It looks like broadband is next.

       

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    Designerfx (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 12:26pm

    new entrant

    They aren't a new entrant, mike. They've been investing in dark fiber for more than 5 years. Nobody knows where, but I'm sure they have the groundwork well set. I mean it's already known that they get around tier 1 bandwidth costs by using their own lines (which still have a substantial cost although less), so it's merely that they snuck in that is surprising.

    The search results for "google invests in dark fiber" provide plenty of info on that.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

      Re: new entrant

      They aren't a new entrant, mike. They've been investing in dark fiber for more than 5 years.

      Yeah, I've even written about their dark fiber investments. But last mile is expensive. Customer service is expensive. It's those things I'm not sure about.

       

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        Designerfx (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 1:18pm

        Re: Re: new entrant

        last mile is expensive from a consumer standpoint, but not as much from enterprise. Last I saw was in the realm of $2000-$20,000 for last mile per customer, depending on methods and regulations and whatnot. Customer service costs, I never understood. It sounds like companies have a hard time gauging what exactly are customer service costs/benefits in tangible form. I've worked CS in a ton of places and I can say that even the ones that do great CS get scorn from the rest of the company they work for.

        I figured CS is just as important as investing in IT/technology, and just as misunderstood.

         

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    Michial Thompson, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 12:28pm

    Googles roadblock

    Google is likely to fail, BUT not because of the reasons you think. For utilities to come into a city the city must allow them to, and the politians are the ones that will cause google to fail.

    The reason for the lack of cable and telephone competition has nothing to do with the competition. It has to do with the fact that politicians and the cities have a vested interest in keeping it to a minimum. They receive money from these companies for the privilege of allowing them in, and the companies expect to have exclusive access to those cities.

     

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      David Johnson (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

      Re: Googles roadblock

      I think that the logic is backwards. If I encourage competition, a municipality will have more users at the expense of fewer users per provider. As prices drive down, more users that decided $X/mo was too much, but now that it's $Y I will get broadband, or a bigger package--or that now I can justify a recurring internet bill.

      The local governments need to understand that they have nothing to lose by removing the monopolies.

       

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        Michial Thompson, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

        Re: Re: Googles roadblock

        David;

        Not really, right now the companies pay BIG $$$ to be in cities, they won't be willing to pay as much if they aren't exclusive. So the City would be lose money evein if more people did subscribe

         

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          chris (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: Googles roadblock

          Not really, right now the companies pay BIG $$$ to be in cities, they won't be willing to pay as much if they aren't exclusive. So the City would be lose money evein if more people did subscribe

          i disagree. more competition means more subscriptions, that means more users, more applications, more build outs, and more equipment sold. that translates to more businesses (start ups, small businesses, and more support businesses) which means more jobs and more tax revenues, both from businesses and employees of those businesses.

          creating jobs grows tax revenues and the overall economy because people with jobs by goods and services.

          give a politician a way to create good jobs, and he will see more campaign contributions from ordinary taxpayers than any corporation could contribute.

           

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            nasch (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 7:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Googles roadblock

            You're comparing right of way fees now with various benefits later. I'm not saying you're wrong, but politicians in the US at least don't often bother thinking long term.

             

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    are these politicians really aliens?, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    bitchslapping politicians that scrw us

    maybe we ought to have a day where people can walk up and slap htem for being bribed idiots

    OR before being elected it be a requirement they each get a pie in face

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    I can guarantee that the Telcos are shitting themselves blind over this. Get ready for lots of legal douchebaggery on the incumbent's part before this is over. Google may very well sweep in and do things that the Telcos have been whining to Congress about as impossible. Not a good thing when competition rears it's head and it's not "on side" with the rest of them. This should be interesting,

     

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    Jason Airlie, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    They don't have

    Google doesn't have to succeed as an ongoing broadband provider. Just by entering the market and shaking things up they change the nature of the market. By competing they force other providers to improve faster.

    GMail did the same thing when it came out and offered 10 times the storage of any other free email on the market.

    Google has a vested interested in keeping the Internet open and high speed. Faster connection makes Google services more acceptable as replacements for desktop apps. Openness keeps the 'ecosystem'/Internet vibrant and prevents stagnation.

     

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    Chad, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

    Jump on the bandwagon.

    I remember in days of our past, when another technology company was growing exponentially. People shouted, ranted, and complained that such monopolies should not exist, that the corporation was evil, and that they should be despised.

    Google seems to be doing very much the same, but how can you stay angry with a company whose very slogan suggests they aren't the evil ones.

    The thing is that the telcos here had laid down fiber-optic infrastructure years ago, and I know for a fact that it's sitting under my front lawn. All they really need to do is flip a switch and we're all running hundreds of times faster than we currently are. Seems Google just went and took the initiative to flip the switch.

    Let's face it though... compared to other parts of the world, North America is WAY behind in both the cost and the speed of Internet. Maybe not so bad as our friends in the UK, but compared to Japan, China, Korea, etc... we're decades behind. Finally something like this will put us over the top, and I for one am jumping on the bandwagon if I have the chance.

     

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    jsl4980 (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    My interpretation was that Google was just experimenting and opening up their results to anyone who wanted to see them. Hopefully other invested ISPs can take a look at Google's test results and try to improve their networks. I find it hard to believe any incumbent would make improvements without competition, but if they could make their networks more efficient and save some cash based on Google's findings then we'd all be a little better off.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 4:21pm

    Has anyone figured out googles .....

    Has anyone figured out googles end run around the telcos yet???

    The US currently is spending an obscene amount of money to determine broadband penetration here in the US. The telcos and cable companies have hi jacked this effort. What one company on the planet has the information to provide a broadband penetration map to the US government right now and change the future?

    Google.

    They know who you are they know where you live and they know who your ISP is based on IP address or a Trace Route.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Feb 10th, 2010 @ 5:07pm

      Re: Has anyone figured out googles .....

      that last line sounded really bad ...

       

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        The Anti-Mike (profile), Feb 11th, 2010 @ 2:28am

        Re: Re: Has anyone figured out googles .....

        we are the borg.
        you will be assimilated.
        we know who you are.
        we know how you connect.
        you will now connect with us.
        resistance is futile

        (note: every time I hear resistance is futile, I don't tend to think of the borg first, I tend to think of Vogons yelling "resistance is useless!", I can't help but think that the STTNG writers were fans too).

         

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    rockman, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 4:49pm

    let me the first to welcome our google overlords

    at least they are in the right mind set, technology driven entrepreneurs, not investment bank scumbag lawyers selling each other bits and parts that happen to be government regulated monopolies. suddenlink sells out to comcast that sells out to cox ect ad infinitum and all you get for this douchebaggery is higher cable bills, because each iteration allow the new dirtbags to charge for the inevitable upgrade in technology.suddenlink is absolutely the worst of the lot.google can know everything about me if i get true upload and download with no torrent throttling like att has started doing in the last month or so.



    i'd rather be a monkey than a racist- darwin

     

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    Arya, Feb 11th, 2010 @ 3:10am

    Google wants to conquer the world

    Obviously...
    But what would we do without it???

    Arya Schellemberg
    MarCom Manager
    Sortfix
    http://www.sortfix.com

     

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    jsf (profile), Feb 11th, 2010 @ 8:50am

    They Won't Be Allowed To Even Try

    While this idea sounds cool, and I nominated the town I live in, I doubt Google will even get a real chance to try this out. They will get sued by the incumbent telcos/cable companies and tied up in court for so long even they will have to eventually give up.

     

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