Google Invites AT&T, Comcast, Verizon To Fiber Party

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 (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.”

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.

About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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