February 17, 2014
Google is continuing to push for change in commercial Internet services, looking beyond the super-fast gigabit connections available in locations such as Kansas City, Kansas and Chattanooga, Tennessee. At a conference in San Francisco last week, Google CFO Patrick Pichette discussed the company’s 10 gigabit experiment, which is exploring connections that are more than 1,000 times faster than today’s average speeds. The news could encourage other providers to also increase their speeds.
A Google spokesman says the company continues to push “the boundaries of innovation,” but does not “have plans to deliver 10 Gig speeds in the near future.”
However, Wired suggests the news comes at an ideal time, since “Comcast agreed to purchase its biggest rival, Time Warner Cable, a move that could threaten the progress of Internet services here in the U.S. Hopefully Google can keep entrenched players like Comcast in check, not only by encouraging them to increase speeds, but by pushing them to treat all traffic equally and not discriminate against certain content in an effort to boost the bottom line.”
The Google Fiber program initially rolled out in Kansas City in 2012. The company has since announced additional services in Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah.
“Although this Google Fiber program has spurred some activity from traditional Internet service providers like AT&T and Century Link, competitors have mostly been slow to follow Google toward super-fast connections,” notes the article. “Instead of competing, the broadband industry has started proposing legislative roadblocks to prevent new competitors from entering their turf.”
Some cities are developing community broadband services rather than waiting for the major players. “The public electrical utility in Chattanooga, Tennessee built the nation’s first gigabit Internet service in 2009, and since then, a few other municipal fiber services have sprung up,” explains Wired.
However, legal roadblocks are emerging as cable company lobbyists propose legislation that would make it difficult for cities to offer their own broadband services.
“There’s clearly a downside to Google muscling its way into the Internet service business,” suggests the article. “The company already has access to an unfathomable amount of user data through its search, email and maps services. But the upside is that the company has the money to fight draconian laws that would protect incumbent providers.”