Google Feb. 11 said it will build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in some locations across the United States, hurtling Internet data at speeds of 1 gigabit per second, or more than 100 times faster than most residential broadband connections.
Google will offer this service to anywhere from 50,000 people to 500,000 people. Why would a search engine do this?
Because Google is not just a search engine anymore. It is the premier proprietor of Web services and the sooner everyone acknowledges this, the easier it will be to grok Google.
Google says it does everything it does for the sake of organizing the world's information on the Web and making it easily accessible.
The company offers search to organize the Web's information. It leverages communications tools such as Gmail to let people e-mail each other and share other content via the Web through Google Buzz.
Google Voice lets users funnel calls to several phones via the Web.
Google tethers advertising to most of these services and Google's Nexus One and other Android devices are aimed at extending this empire to the mobile Web.
With $25 billion in the bank, the search engine also has the cash to branch out to the infrastructure parts of the Web, such as offering a Google Domain Name System.
Now Google wants to own some of the pipes that shuttle the massive chunks of data generated in these Web services to and from the computers and mobile devices we use.
- We want 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.
- We'll test new ways to build fiber networks, and to help inform and support deployments elsewhere, we'll share key lessons learned with the world.
- We'll operate an "open access" network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we'll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.
In a complementary post, Google's D.C. Telecom Guru Richard Whitt cited streaming high-definition video content, remote data storage, distance learning and real-time multimedia collaboration as some of the tasks 1G bps broadband will enable.
We should not be surprised. Anything that makes the Web work faster enables Google to consummate more search and Web services transactions. In this digital economy, more Web transactions translates to more advertising spend and more reward for the primary vector of that operation: Google.
While the FCC has come out in support of Google's endeavor, the nation's broadband providers aren't likely to be so kind of this latest case of Google Creep.
Google Creep is my term for the way Google is entering new markets, often with the stated goals to improve the way the Web works for users. Behind these statements of philanthropy lie the cool, precise model for making money from the Web.
Is Google taking over the world, and is that a leading question, as lawyers like to ask?
If you believe the world is run by information in this Information Age, and you accept that the Web is now the ultimate medium for delivering information in the Information Age then the answer is yes.
The Web by its nature wants to make information available to users rapidly and now Google is facilitating this effort from the starting point of broadband access to the search engine gateway, or the "middleman" to the extending Web service tendrils, such as Gmail, Google Voice, and in mobile.
Google is taking over the Web, in so far as the Web, which is open, can be taken over.
Net-net, Google is gunning to control some of the pipes to protect its interests in making sure Internet service is better than anything average Joe Web user has at home.
If Google pulls this off, one could envision in five years Google serving consumers from soup to nuts, or its search and other Web services and mobile apps, from its own pipes.
This is fantastic and frightening at the same time. Some people will love the emergent Google World Order. Others loathe it, fearing a slow slide toward a Microsoft-like grip on the Web. Fear and Loathing in Mountain View, Calif.
Where does your attitude lie?