Whenever they actually get a network built…
04:15PM Thursday Apr 22 2010 by Karl Bode
We already knew that Google’s plan to deploy 1 Gbps fiber to the home to a limited area was going to operate as a wholesale operation — with open access allowing ISPs to come in and compete on top of the network (whenever it’s finally built). Part of the reason Google’s deploying the network is so they can show how open access and competition can help keep prices down, service quality up and carriers on their best behavior. The company this week reiterated their dedication to open access, inviting companies like Comcast and AT&T to offer service over the network when it’s finally built:
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.”
But will carriers want to be part of Google’s experiment? While they might participate in any venture where there’s money to be made, remember that Google’s deployment will be relatively small — and Google has no plans to become a national ISP.
As it stands now, Google’s fiber network is little more than a press release and some meeting minutes, which have resulted in a firestorm of endless news coverage with one common theme: many incumbent carriers aren’t delivering the broadband speeds or prices consumers want.
Most of the incumbent carriers already dislike Google for their positions on everything from white space broadband to network neutrality, and after a barrage of criticism, carriers may be in even less of a mood to play along with Google.
Remember too that the Google network’s purpose won’t just be just about creating a test bed for next-generation ads and exploring network build alternatives. Google wants to use the network to collect data for use as political ammunition in the debates over network neutrality, congestion control and competition. Most major carriers aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to see more competition, given they spend millions on lobbying each year to avoid it whenever and however possible.
That said, wherever Google winds up deploying the perfect opportunity for smaller, hungrier ISPs eager for the national coverage and deployment insights the network is going to provide. We’ll have a lot of time to think about it, given Google doesn’t even plan to announce the lucky launch location until later this year.