Look out, Comcast and AT&T! Google is trying to scare you into upgrading your networks faster by making it sound like it wants a piece of the ISP market.
Google just announced that it plans to build trial ultra high-speed broadband networks in select parts of the country.
This could be great news for consumers, especially in Google’s test markets. The company promises connection speeds of “100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today.” Users could potentially enjoy download speeds from the network at 1 gigabit per second, though of course at that speed, the limiting factor would usually be elsewhere, like your hard drive or CPU.
The benefit for Google: More bandwidth so you can use more Google services, faster, including streaming hi-def videos from YouTube to multiple devices, more Web apps, search, etc.
But it’s unlikely Google will actually try to make a real business out of this. More likely: It’s just trying to scare the cable and telco guys into building out faster networks before Google gets around to it. (Sort of like how it pretended it was going to get into the wireless business during the FCC’s spectrum auction a few years ago.)
Building out pipes and delivering bits is a lousy business. It’s hugely capital intensive — Verizon is spending ~$20 billion just on the first phase of its FiOS buildout — and hugely focused on manual labour, customer service, etc. Add low margins and increased competition, and it makes no sense for Google to do this on a broad scale.
But if Google could get Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and AT&T to get their act together, they could achieve what they’re looking for.
Google’s plans are still in an early stage, so the details are sketchy. The trial network would cover somewhere between 50,000 and 500,000 users. Google plans to try out several different technologies to see what works best.
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