February 11, 2010 | Digital Life


Google announced that they are going to be building high-speed networks 100x faster what most people have today.

They’re going to price their broadband service competitively to what other companies are charging.

I say it’s about time.

Google is launching the service to jumpstart new, high-speed Internet technologies. They’ll share what they learn in these trials with other companies to help increase Internet speeds generally.

It hasn’t decided where the service will be launched.

  • The networks will be open access, meaning the network infrastructure will be shared with other access providers.
  • They’ll provide service to anywhere from 50,000 to a half-million subscribers.
  • The trials will occur in one or more US municipalities which Google determines would be a good fit.

How fast is 1Gbps?

1 Gigabyte per second is:

  • 134,217,728 bytes per second
  • 131,072 MB per second
  • 7.86 GB per minute

Obviously, this is fast enough to download a high-definition movie in minutes, or a standard-definition movie in seconds. There are a lot of videoconferencing, medical, gaming, educational, and other applications you could imagine being made possible with this speed.

Request for information

Google has a web page that describes what they are doing.

It’s requesting information from cities, counties, military bases, etc., which would be interested in participating in the program.

Even if your city doesn’t send an application in, you can nominate your locality as an individual.

My comments

Although it’s hard to believe that a corporation would be doing something like this out of the goodness of their own hearts, Google actually has an interest in high-speed Internet:

  • The faster the Internet experience is, the more compelling it is.
  • The more compelling the Internet is, the more time people spend online.
  • The more time people spend online, the more time they are likely to be on Google, or on a site that has Google ads.
  • Hence, the more money Google makes.

Textual vs. audiovisual Internet

A lower speed Internet lends itself to a textual world-wide web. When speeds increased, the use of images on the web increased. When we moved to DSL and broadband, in came videos. Even higher speeds (1 gigabit per second) would mean the possibility of an even more multimedia-based Internet.

But how can this be good for Google, which has traditionally leveraged its parsing of web page text in order to be able to serve ads?

I think the answer is in some key audio-to-text technologies which Google has recently rolled out:

Since Google now has the ability to parse spoken words, it’s not afraid of audiovisual elements in the web for serving relevant advertisements. In fact a really cool thing that they could do is show different ads as a speaker changes subjects.

Network neutrality

There’s also the factor that Google’s been fighting ISPs who are content producers (Time/AOL) or are otherwise jerks (AT&T) which are limiting the already pathetic speeds that they deign to give to American Internet consumers. AT&T’s head actually said he’d like Google to pay for the access that he gives Google to consumers.

This represents a sort of end-run around those ISPs. Google will make its own Internet.

Here’s a case where Google’s interests align with common man’s. Hooray for Google in this instance.


Google Fiber for Communities

Ars Technica article

Slashdot discussion

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