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Google Enters the Home Broadband Market

So That's What All of Google's Dark Fiber Was For

In a week already full of Google announcements, another bomb was casually dropped today via Google’s blog. The Borg from California announced that it was experimentally entering the Fiber to the Curb (FTTC) market, and that they planned to offer much higher speeds than current offerings (1Gb/sec) and competitive pricing. The announcement also talks about what, when you remove the marketspeak, is a commitment to net neutrality in their service. This, of course, is not surprising, given Google’s strong lobbying for neutrality to the FCC and congress.

What is becoming very clear is that Google wants to have a finger in, if not own, most of the pie when it comes to how consumers and business access their information. Android was a first foray into the mobile market, and we know that Google was in the chase for cellular spectrum during the big auction. Google Voice is another attempt to make an end run around the traditional telecomm infrastructure. But if Google becomes a major player in Fiber to the home, they take a huge step forward.

Once Google has a pipe into the house, they can easily become a player in VoIP and landline telephone service, as well as cable TV and on-demand. Of course, these areas are fraught with regulatory issues. Many towns require cable providers to enter into individual franchise agreements in order to provide service, which can be a nightmare when you multiply it times N towns. But it’s much easier to offer when you have a bit pipe already in place. And a 1Gb service will allow for HD or even Blu-Ray 3D service on-demand to the house.

In a way, you can say that it’s about time that someone offered Gb fiber in the US. In Europe and Asia, this level of service is already in place, and it’s a bit of a crime that we lag so far behind. Google could jumpstart the market in the US, and without all the bagage that the traditional telcos are carrying around.

Mind you, this is just an experiment. According to Google, the pilot will involve somewhere between 50,000 and 500,000 households. But unlike many companies, Google ‘experiments’ have a habit of turning into game-changing products.

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  • Tim Welch

    I sometimes wonder if Google intends to carry these types of experiments through (the Nexus One is another example) or if they are really just meant to spur the industry into quicker adoption of technologies that Google needs in the bigger picture. In this case applications that demand a bigger pipe for better performance, Google Earth for instance.

    -Tim

  • Alex Tolley

    It would be good if this spurred the telecom/cable providers to provide higher quality service at affordable prices, rather than attempting to rent-seek. However, I don’t see this as anything more than a demo at best.

  • bowerbird

    i want it!

    -bowerbird