Google.net may be coming to a neighborhood near you. According to a recent press reports the world's leading search engine may change its game to offer broadband access nationwide. One catch, they would have to build a broadband network massive enough to rival even the country's biggest Internet service providers.
They plan to map the elusive final mile, however, using municipal WiFi systems, a move that could leapfrog lumbering cable and DSL providers into American homes.
Google's plans could tie into municipal efforts to expand Wi-Fi. Dozens of municipalities of all sizes are looking to install citywide Wi-Fi access as a way to get broadband to more people. To learn more about a municipal broadband service near you visit Free Press.
Business 2.0 reports that Google is already building the fiber backbone for such a system: "For the past year, it has quietly been shopping for miles and miles of 'dark,' or unused, fiber-optic cable across the country from wholesalers such as New York’s AboveNet. It's also acquiring superfast connections from Cogent Communications and WilTel, among others, between East Coast cities including Atlanta, Miami, and New York."
That's a lot of fiber, especially for an Internet company that has no experience or means to maintain hardware stretched over thousands of miles.
Essentially, Google is several smart engineers and marketing people sitting on massive warehouse of web servers. Transitioning from that to an ISP with nationally distributed hardware and customer service infrastructure will require billions of dollars in startup -- and a complete overhaul of corporate culture.
Google has made bold moves in the past, but none has so significantly changed their way of doing business -- with an emphasis shift from clicks to mortar.
They can save some related costs, however, with WiFi into homes and businesses. And according to a report yesterday in Investor's Business Daily, that's exactly what they're doing: "Its latest project: security software for accessing the Internet wirelessly via the popular Wi-Fi standard. The new software works with Google's limited free Wi-Fi service."
A source inside Google says they're looking more intently at, first, building localized networks in major metropolitan areas. They have already created a hot spot service that is limited to parts of the San Francisco Bay Area but have proposed a free service for the whole city.
"All you would need would be a Wi-Fi-equipped laptop and, boom, you're on the Internet for free," Greg Sterling, an analyst with the research firm Kelsey Group, told the Investor's Daily. "Think about the brand Microsoft has built being on every desktop, and Google doing the same by providing free Internet access. It could become a next-generation service provider."
With Google in the market, the broadband dynamic could change once more. The cable/telecom duopoly would become more vulnerable with each passing week.
Either way, high-speed Internet service is gearing up to become corporate battle royale. Get off the sidelines and stake your claim to affordable and ubiquitous broadband.
SEPT 19 REPORT: Google Plans National Optical Fiber Network
Google is reviewing bids from tech vendors to build a nationwide optical DWDM network, which means that the cash-flush web giant could soon have a communications network that few can rival. The vendors who have seen Google’s fiber network RFP say that the nature of the network can really only mean that Google ultimately hopes to push massive amounts of voice, video and data close to the end user. The perennial problem is that close is not enough — to reach the end user, Google has to have access to the last mile. WiFi would be the answer.