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.
Google Trying to Spur ISPs into Action
5. It Sets a Precedent
By offering 1G-bps Web speeds, Google can set a precedent in the market. For once, ISPs will be required to play catch-up. Once some users start talking about the incredible speeds Google is offering them, others will be jealous. They will speak out against their own ISPs. And it might cause Comcast, Time Warner Cable and the others to finally get going on investing in infrastructure to deliver faster speeds. It might not be instant, but improvements will likely follow after Google unleashes its network.
6. The Freshness of Openness
According to its blog post, Google plans to deliver a spirit of openness with its network that users just haven’t seen on the Web. Google’s network will be “open access,” which will allow users to choose an ISP from all those that use Google’s network. For once, that openness might breed a sense of competition that seems to be lacking in the industry. ISPs are currently operating with little fear of competition. Google might be able to change that.
7. Passing Savings On
Google also plans to try out savings ideas to limit the deployment costs it will be required to pay for its network. Hopefully, that means that those savings will be passed on to the Web user. In most cases, having such a hope wouldn’t make sense when discussing the telecommunications industry. But Google is different. In several cases, it has changed the industries it competes in for the better. Hopefully, it will follow suit in the telecommunications industry.
8. It Could Revolutionize the Web
If 1G-bps download speeds come to user homes, it could have a huge impact on the Internet. More advanced Web apps requiring better speeds could be offered. Larger files could make their way to the Web, making it a more preferred backup solution for any enterprise. Perhaps most importantly, it could challenge some Web developers to deliver experiences we haven’t seen to this point. The Internet could be a different place after Google’s network gets going.
9. Download Speeds Change Everything
Download speeds could have a profound impact on the way users interact with the tech in their homes. According to Google, users could download movies from the Internet in “less than 5 seconds.” Downloading HD films from a set-top box like the Apple TV would be more amenable to users. Google’s 1G-bps connection could also affect the gaming world, making it possible for games to be delivered to users’ homes over the Web, rather than require physical discs. Simply put, Google’s download speeds could deliver exciting new advancements that could revolutionize the industry.
10. It’s Google
Let’s not forget that Google is the company behind the idea to deliver 1G-bps Web speeds. If it were an ISP or an unknown company, some might be suspect. But Google has a proven track record of delivering a service that people want to use. It also has the team and technical know-how to deliver on its promises. Whether or not Google’s network will be available to just a handful of people or if its plan is part of a larger-scale desire to take on ISPs is currently unknown. But if any company can revolutionize the telecommunications business, it’s Google. It should be exciting to see what comes of its plans.