Heads, We Call it “Brinternet”–Tails, “SergeyCom”
For the past few years, we’ve been hearing rumblings about Google leasing hundreds of thousands of square feet of carrier hotel space, buying up dark fiber, mulling the purchase of hundreds of millions of dollars in DWDM and Ethernet-based telecom equipment and helping build out a trans-Pacific multi-terabit undersea cable.
Given Google’s mission–to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful–and the telecom costs and peering fees associated with this goal, it was inevitable that the company would look to secure additional network capacity.
But evidently, Google (GOOG) had other ambitions here as well–like deploying its own 1Gbps fiber-to-the-home Internet service.
“We’re planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States,” Google product managers Minny Ingersoll and James Kelly wrote in a company blog post. “We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.”
Google insists that the purpose of this project is to “experiment and learn” in hope of making Internet access better and faster for everyone. That’s an altruistic goal, but a selfishly altruistic one. By providing Internet speeds of 1Gbps, Google will drive further usage of its various services and the contextual ads it peppers them with. At the same time, the company will humiliate the telcos into improving their own networks and, given Google’s stated focus on “openness and choice,” perhaps even change market dynamics.
But is this plan setting the stage for Google to become a full-fledged network operator? That seems unlikely. Telecom is a low-margin, capital-intensive business. I can’t imagine that it is very attractive to Google, which can’t even be bothered to build out a viable support system for its new Nexus One smartphone business.