Wednesday, February 23, 2011

App-Rising: Google Goes To Bat For Fiber In A Big Way

February 10, 2010 1:46 PM

Google Goes To Bat For Fiber In A Big Way

Wow! Wow, wow, wow!!! That's all I've been thinking ever since reading the hot-off-the-presses announcement that Google's going to invest in building out open fiber networks to serve at least 50,000 and up to 500,000 households.

Their intent is threefold:

- To spur the development of the next generation of fiber-powered apps
- To experiment with and share the results of different models for deployment
- To prove that the open access model can work for broadband networks

The significance of each one of these can not be understated.

To have Google embrace the notion that fiber can enable a new era of high performance applications is huge. It means they're preparing to devote some of their own resources to the creation of new networked experiences, and in so doing they're going to raise the profile about the potential of fiber to a much larger audience of developers.

To have Google support fiber not just in words but in action by putting up capital to spur deployment shows a tremendous commitment to their country's future. And the fact that they're specifically looking to experiment with new models and to share the results with the public could have a profound impact on the future of fiber.

And to have Google put its money where its mouth in terms of proving the viability of open networks could ultimately shift the dynamic of how we perceive networks vs. services and applications.

These developments would be extremely important in a vacuum, but their impact is even more significant given where we stand with the broadband stimulus and national broadband plan.

To date the stimulus has been slow to get moving and limited in its imagination. To now have a new source of funds that presumably will be more open to exploring new ideas could mean that the good projects that slip through the stimulus cracks can still have a chance at making their projects a reality.

To date the national broadband plan has been on a lower-than-hoped-for trajectory with the FCC seemingly unwilling to set America on a more aspirational path. To now have a major Internet player coming out hard in support of the need for a more connected future will move this issue to the forefront and potentially force the government to step beyond their good-enough mindset and instead strive to be great. In fact, Google specifically cites the FCC's perceived lack of ambition as a driving force behind this initiative.

Not to put too much pressure on Google, but if they do this right, this initiative could be the most significant thing to ever happen to America's broadband ecosystem. It could set America on a path that the government seems unwilling and/or unable to lead us down.

So needless to say, today is a good day for Google, for fiber, and for our great nation.

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