Google is getting into the broadband network business, at
least on a small scale.
The company has been pushing the FCC to require higher
baseline speeds as part of the national broadband plan, but has decided to take
the do-it-yourself approach.
The company announced Wednesday (Feb. 10) that it would
build fiber-to-the home network test beds in various locations, delivering 1
gigabit per second to some 50,000 customers at what it called a
"competitive" price, with the goal of multiplying that customer base
Setting itself up as something of a private industry variant
of the government entities--NTIA, USDA--seeking bids for broadband stimulus
build-out funds, Google is soliciting RFI's (request for information) from municipalities
across the country who would like to have the network built there.
The RFI was issued Wednesday and cities and communities will
have until March 26 to respond.
"We've urged the FCC to look at new and creative ways
to get there in its National Broadband Plan, and today we're announcing an
experiment of our own," said the
Google is essentially looking to demonstrate the type of
network it has argued is needed to handle all the killer apps and the HD video
that will be the currency of the broadband world.
The company says it will give application developers a place
to put those bandwidth-hungry apps, provide lessons learned from building fiber
networks and, in a nod to its support for network neutrality, says it will be
an "open access" network, with choice of multiple providers and
managed in an "open, nondiscriminatory and transparent way."
Google launched a WiFi network in its hometown of Mountain View, Calif.,
in 2006, and said Wednesday this would be a similar kind of test for wired
"Google's project will show the benefits of the open
access model, where the owner of the network offers third parties the ability
to provide services over their infrastructure," said the Open Internet
Coalition in a statement. "Additionally, Google will operate its network
on a neutral basis, embracing net neutrality as an operating principle. We hope
this will serve as an example to other network operators that the open model
should not be feared, but should be emulated. Profit and openness are mistakenly
seen to be in conflict; in fact we believe they are synergistic and amplifying."
broadband creates big opportunities," said FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski in response to the Google announcement. "This significant
trial will provide an American test bed for the next generation of innovative,
high-speed Internet apps, devices, and services. The FCC's National Broadband
Plan will build upon such private-sector initiatives and will include
recommendations for facilitating and accelerating greater investment in
broadband, creating jobs and increasing America's global competitiveness."