Google Dissing Telecom Laggards on Broadband
I’m thrilled at the news today of Google’s plan to build a public test-bed high-speed broadband network.
Of course Google isn’t going to build a national 1Gbps overlay network (stop your scoffing, Verizon). As WSJ.com reports, Google product manager Minnie Ingersoll says Google’s just “putting its money where its mouth is” in an effort to prod the FCC to put serious effort into a regulatory plan for advanced broadband. The test-bed, slated for a few towns or small cities, is needed to find out just how much headroom there will be in a network where a high percentage of the packets are carrying video or other latency-sensitive application data, and where there is “open access” rather than the severe throttling of traffic that occurs today in the U.S. carrier networks.
Certainly Google benefits from the actual test-bed, but it’s getting an equal PR bounce from its willingness to tweak the U.S. carriers for their foot-dragging in building faster data networks and committing to net neutrality on them. FCC chairman Genachowski wasn’t shy about praising Google for this “significant trial” and that likely caused some teeth-grinding at the carrier regulatory affairs offices.
Everyone knows Google isn’t going to invest or pull together the kind of investor pool needed to tackle a serious national high-speed network—even though Google could possibly afford it. No, the goal is to highlight the carriers’ hesitations by having a couple of thousand thrilled broadband users appear in news reports and PR videos, saying how great it is to have one wire pour an unlimited river of cool stuff, including a ton of high-definition video-on-demand, into their homes. Google has absolutely nothing to lose.