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Google and Gigabit to the home – It smells funny

Google (www.google.com) says they’re going to invest in an “experimental” gigabit to the home network for anywhere between 50,000 to 500,000 subscribers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the same Google that said they were going to bid on 700 MHz wireless spectrum a couple of years ago?

Let’s look at the details on this vague and puffy blog piece–

1) Google says they’re going to have a “small number’ of trial locations across the U.S.

2) It plans to offer service at a “competitive price” to “at least” 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people – that’s a factor of TEN variance.

3) It’s all an experiment to generate next gen apps, new ways to build fiber networks, and how to teach the grubby phone companies a better way to do business

OK, I’m making up the last part, but seriously, it’s getting rights-of-way and digging ditches.  Verizon and others have figured out how to put down fiber to the curb and to the home, so how is Google going to “learn something new” here?

4) It will supposedly be an “open access” network to give users the choice of multiple service providers and be managed in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.

5) Here’s the kicker for me: “We’re putting out a request for information (RFI) to help identify interested communities. We welcome responses from local government, as well as members of the public.”

Add on that The Goog hasn’t said how much MONEY (cash) it will invest in this “experiment” and you get a verrrrry interesting fishing expedition.

Let me speculate how this goes–

1) The Goog will “select” townships offering free rights-of-way and potentially some of that FCC broadband build out cash.   Anyone expecting Google to actually p-a-y for right-of-way is probably out of luck.

2) Looking to 1), I would expect a rural build out or two or three.   And a lot of splash, waiving of the American Flag, big speech, marching bands, etc.

3) Fat chance on an urban build out with the potential exception of one place – San Francisco.  Comcast is the dominant home broadband provider and AT&T just hasn’t gotten its act together to deploy higher speed service beyond hyped-up DSL.

I could see Google playing some Jedi mind tricks in/on one of the San Fran municipalities — “This is the broadband you’ve been looking for…” and try to shake AT&T out of its penny-wise/pound-foolish lethargic approach to home service.

Will this play work to shame providers into more/better/faster speeds? Verizon should feel pretty secure with FiOS and AT&T just doesn’t care.

FYI for the techies out there – later deployments of Verizon FiOS (like those going into my neighborhood) use GPON (Gigabit Ethernet PON) technology, so if Verizon wants to pull a media stunt to counter Google’s hype, it could (in theory) offer Gigabit speeds to the home in newer deployments overnight

Of course, GigE to the house translates to what you put on the backend network and doesn’t THAT make for some interesting network discussions?

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