Monday, February 15, 2010

Some Thoughts on Google's Fiber To The Home (FTTH) Experiment

Last week, Google announced plans to test ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. The company is saying these test networks will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today, over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

The company wants to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone. Here are some specific things that they have in mind:

  • Next generation apps: Google wants to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it's creating new bandwidth-intensive "killer apps" and services, or other uses we can't yet imagine.
  • New deployment techniques: They will test new ways to build fiber networks, and to help inform and support deployments elsewhere, will share key lessons learned with the world.
  • Openness and choice: Google will operate an "open access" network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers.
I like it, I like it a lot. Not because I think Google will single-handedly solve the broadband access and availability problems in our country but, because Google is trying to do things a little differently. High-bandwidth delivery efforts in the United States to this point have worked in some areas but not in others.

A few weeks ago I wrote as far as broadband goes - things have not got much better since 2007 in most of the rural communities in our country - in many places I would argue access today is worse than it was in September 2007. Things have been pretty dismal in many parts of our country. Now maybe we've got a glimmer - just a glimmer - of excitement and (dare I use the word) hope.

From now until March 26th, Google is asking interested municipalities to provide information about their communities through a Request for information (RFI), which the company will use to determine where to build their network. You can get more information on Google's experimental fiber network plans on the Official Google Blog.

Someone is going to figure out how to do this and so far I'm really liking Google's "experiment".

1 comment:

Mark Viquesney said...

I hope that Phoenix becomes one of the test markets. It is always disappointing to see that Japan is at 100mbs if not faster, and Cox cable wants me to get excited that they can do 10mbs. While I heard that many cable companies call this a PR stunt by Google, this is their public statement. Privately, they have to worry. I think the biggest problem will be the last few feet (getting the fiber optics to the house, and house to have fiber optics inside as well). This can only bring better things to the market.