10 Reasons Why a Google Fiber Network Could Reshape the ISP Landscape

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-02-11 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Google announced recently that it plans to deliver a fiber network capable of delivering 1G-bps Web speeds. That's no small feat. The impact it could have on both the Internet and the tech industry as a whole cannot be understated. It could force changes in the entire U.S. ISP market, depending on whether Google eventually commits to widely deploying this 1G-bps network.

Google announced Feb. 10 that it plans to deliver up to 1G-bps Web speeds to 50,000 people across the United States as part of an experiment to gauge the quality of next-generation apps, the viability of "new deployment techniques" and interest in "openness." Google might even ramp up availability to over 500,000 people in the United States.

Google's announcement has sent shockwaves through the tech community. Just how much does Google plan to invest in its new fiber-optic deployment? How will major ISPs respond to the news? And perhaps most importantly, how will it impact the telecommunications industry? At this point, Google's exact intentions are unknown. But it could have a profound effect on the tech industry.

Let's take a look at why:

1. Speeds Are Abysmal

Around the United States, Web speeds are abysmal. In many cases, the average American is lucky to get 10M-bps download speeds and 1M-bps upload speeds. It's a real issue. Other countries around the world are enjoying much faster speeds. And considering the Web is becoming increasingly crowded with large files, it's taking some folks much longer than they'd like to download those files. If Google can deliver 1G-bps download speeds, it would dramatically improve the average U.S. Web user's experience on the Internet.

2. ISPs Don't Seem to Care

Unfortunately, most ISPs just don't seem to care that download speeds are not where customers would like them to be. Major ISPs, including Comcast and Time Warner Cable, have basically maintained status quo over the past couple years. And in some cases, those ISPs are limiting speeds on those that upload too many files each month. ISPs don't seem worried by this. Hopefully, Google can make them realize that things need to change.

3. The Market Wants It

The market desires another company to come in and change things up. Current ISPs have been at it for too long without much competition. If Google can break into the market and offer dramatically improved speeds, companies like Time Warner Cable and Comcast will have no choice but to react. Having just a few companies dominating Internet access is a major issue for most Web users. Google is the only company that can address that.

4. Google Has the Cash to Do It

Deploying a fiber-optic network to the home is an extremely costly endeavor. The immense cost has given ISPs a sense of comfort, knowing that the barriers to entry are so high that most companies will opt against deploying a network. But Google is different. It has the cash on hand-over $10 billion at last count-to invest in a full-scale fiber network without worry of losing everything. ISPs know that. And they are undoubtedly concerned. That's probably a good thing for Web users.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel