Google announced today their intention to build a Google fiber network that will “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.” They say the FTTH network will be competitively priced and will reach “at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.”

Google is issuing a fiber network RFI and encouraging communities to request Google to come to them to build what I suspect may be multiple FTTH deployments. Some of the listed objectives of this initiative include:

  • Next generation apps: We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it’s creating new bandwidth-intensive “killer apps” and services, or other uses we can’t yet imagine.
  • New deployment techniques: We’ll test new ways to build fiber networks, and to help inform and support deployments elsewhere, we’ll share key lessons learned with the world.
  • Openness and choice: We’ll operate an “open access” network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we’ll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.

This is an interesting development to say the least. The idea of Google becoming a broadband service provider, even in this trial approach, could have far reaching implications. I suspect Google’s objectives have more to do with trying to influence and change market dynamics (as well as public policy) to make their core products even more pervasive, than to build a service provider model to compete with existing carriers. But I guess one never knows.

This latest development joins their recent announcement to move into the social networking arena with the launch of Google Buzz. With all of these announcements, the cynical view could easily conclude that Google simply has too much time and too much money and they’re bored.

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10 thoughts on “Google Building Its Own FTTH Network, Wants Community Volunteers

    1. Funny point Sandy and unfortunately true. But my initial impression of what Google is doing with this is to operate an 'open' network and allow multiple service providers to deliver services through it. In other words, Google doesn't have any retail end customer relationships. They wholesale the network to other carriers who are responsible for customer support.

      But then again – it's real early and many details have not been finalized.

        1. Neither of these links worked for me, but it may be a firefox thing. However, it will be interesting to see if this actually comes to pass. After all, they have hit big headlines before with promises to buy huge blocks of spectrum for broadband to provide free or low cost wireless services supported by ads. While they are not making that claim here, it is difficult to justify to shareholders the spending of a portion of their $79 B in revenues on a wholesale fiber network that isn't highly probable to give a return of (much less a return on) their investment.

    1. My sense is the municipal broadband network movement will be ripe for this initiative. Communities that are candidates for municipally owned broadband networks, like the many that have sprouted up in the past few years, seem like potential fits. I could be wrong, but I don't see Google overbuilding communities where decent broadband is already available.

      Then again, that's conventional thinking. There's a lot of chatter about Google using this initiative to push the open broadband concept. Maybe they go into comuunities where good broadband is present, just to try to prove a point about open broadband networks. Wherever they go, they will want to make a big splash. Regardless, it should be interesting to watch…

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