Welcome to Title II, Sergey and Larry
Excellent analysis of Google’s plan to build a few experimental fiber networks from my former colleague Barbara Esbin:
NetworkWorld reports that by constructing its own fiber network, Google “is trying to push its vision for how the Internet as a whole should operate.” I wish the company all the success in the world with GoogleNet. Business model experimentation and new entry to the broadband Internet service provider market like this should be encouraged. If this “open access” common carrier network proves to be a viable business model that attracts both customers and followers, it will be a fabulous addition to the domestic Internet ecosystem. But this vision should not be turned into unnecessary government mandates for other Internet network operators who are similarly trying to experiment with their business models in this brave new digital world.
Surprisingly, I also agree with Harold Feld’s analysis:
the telecom world is all abuzz over the news that Google will build a bunch of Gigabit test-beds. I am perfectly happy to see Google want to drop big bucks into fiber test beds. I expect this will have impact on the broadband market in lots of ways, and Google will learn a lot of cool things that will help it make lots of money at its core business — organizing information and selling that service in lots of different ways to people who value it for different reasons. But Google no more wants to be a wireline network operator than it wanted to be a wireless network operator back when it was willing to bid on C Block in the 700 MHz Auction.
So what does Google want? As I noted then: “Google does not want to be a network operator, but it wants to be a network architect.” Oh, it may end up running networks. Google has a history of stepping up to do things that further its core business when no one else wants to step up, as witnessed most recently by their submitting a bid to serve as the database manager for the broadcast white spaces devices. But what it actually wants to do is modify the behavior of the platforms on which it rides to better suit its needs. Happily, since those needs coincide with my needs, I don’t mind a bit.
I do mind.