I've always been one of those who stated that Google had no interest in being an infrastructure player. I guess I was wrong and this is proof once again that disruptive thinking is hard to anticipate (I guess it's the whole point...)
Google has just announced a few hours ago that they were deploying a 1Gb/s FTTH "experimental" network in the US that would reach 50.000 to 500.000 homes. The announcement is light on details, like for example a timeframe, but reading between the lines there's a few things that can be derived from it:
- Google doesn't expect anything significantly disruptive to emerge from the National Broadband Plan (see the end of the first paragraph)
- Google intends to work with municipalities, which suggests PPP type approaches. This is smart and potentially fast.
- Google intends to prove by example the validity of an open access model. Google's brand would likely solve the issue of existing open access networks struggling to attract customers because micro-ISP brands are not trusted.
- The real questionmark is "how much is this an experiment". I have no doubt that Google wants to try and spur service innovation onwards and demonstrate best practices in deployment and open access. But do they want to become a wide-scale infrastructure provider is the real question behind the announcement...
One thing's for sure, this is a big kick in the anthill. I will no doubt be writing a full report on this this month exploring the implications in more depth, so stay tuned!
(Cross-Posted to www.yankeegroup.com)
Check out GigaOm: Stacey Higginbotham has a very good interview up with Google's own Minnie Ingersoll on this.