1. Of Google and Dark Fiber.

    brian on 2005.08.17
    at 01:20 am

    There have been persistent rumors about Google buying large amount of so-called dark fiber or fiber optical cabling that is strung across the country, but unused, much of which was pulled during the Web 1.0 bubble.

    Perhaps this is just people taking small bits of information and projecting their desires… or maybe its true.

    I’ll admit, I’m pretty fascinated by Google. I’m drawn to innovative secretive companies who build a cult following based on outstanding product and by moving to their the beat of their own drummer.

    I think if Google’s goal is to make the world’s information universally accessible, then running their own fiber makes a lot of sense. Maybe I’m projecting my desires, as well.

    The telecom industry is just waiting to be smacked down by an innovative company with no fear, and lots of cash. They’re just an old boys club with strong lobbyists succeeding on reducing regulation and taxation on one side, and on the other charging huge fees to the general public, and there’s not enough competition to push prices down to reasonable levels. If Google came to town they’d have to shape up or ship out. Google will leverage every new and innovative technology to inflict maximum damage on the competition. They’ll have no fear just because other businesses haven’t done it that way before. They’ll make maximum usage of standards and open source, and seal it with secret, proprietary technology they develop in house with some of the worlds leading researchers and technologists.

    None of the current national players can hold a candle to this. Verizon has made big strides with their FiOS, but it’s still married to MaBell, more or less. They are the ball chained to their fiber network. But I believe Google can really shake some stuff up.

    At least I hope they do.

    I loved Speakeasy while we had them, although 1.5mbps for $50 is no great value, the speed was constant, the network reliable and the support without peer. Then we moved out of their range with our new home. We were going to add their VoIP and Single line options (so-called “naked DSL” – where you don’t need a live phone line to get DSL) but instead had to switch to Comcast.

    I pay less for Comcast monthly ($8 less) for speed that’s up to just about 2x faster… which I’ve already seen fluctuate wildly, and go out completely for almost a day only one day into use. With the fluctuations in speed, I’d say it averages out with the Speakeasy speeds. but it’s wedded to excessively expensive digital cable television, nearly $80/month alone. We enjoy the On Demand video, and they carry a good number of HD channels, but they carry a lot of channels we don’t want, and we have to go several levels higher in the packages to get the few channels we enjoy. It’s a real racket. We don’t need 10 kids channels, 5 shopping channels 5 religious channels, 20 foreign language channels… I could go on and on… we’re having it totally stuck to us.

    It’s this attitude that these communications incumbants share that irks me the most. You don’t have any choices, so we’ll tell you what you’ll do and for how much. If you don’t like it, then you can sit out. Don’t get me started on Comcast’s no-routers for home networking without paying us more – it’s a total joke – and makes no sense.

    I could download nothing but 100GB movies all day on one machine, or I can download email on 5 machines. Which one costs Comcast more? So what’s the restriction on networks do for them again? And if you just want wireless for your only computer, a portable? Well, sorry. You could use that wireless for routing, or sharing! Since you could, thus you can’t. Guilty without chance of a trial.

    Speakeasy had no such silly restrictions. Eventually, this stuff catches up. I don’t suspect Speakeasy to outgrow Comcast, but I do see them doing very well for themselves. Because they care, not just because they’re an 800lb gorilla.

    So if Google is looking to bring something innovative to this industry, I say please. Like the iPod, they won’t have to reinvent the wheel to reinvent the market.

    Posted in: Technology


    Comments (2)

    1. adamg said on 2005.08.17 at 12:49 pm


      Speakeasy rocks. Yes, they cost more than Comcast or Verizon, but like you said, their service is rock solid.

    2. Milkfilk said on 2005.08.25 at 05:32 pm

      You have some excellent points here on telecoms and competition for broadband. But the issue here is the “last mile”. Is a google truck going to run a dark fiber line into my apartment? My house? Who’s going to manage all the boxes and legacy copper lines in the rat’s nests of old office buildings?

      Yes FiOS is neat. 20mb down/5mb up would make me very happy. But it’s not in my area and I’m supposedly in the Internet heart of the world (DC).

      All this big business stuff is really making the US look slow compared to other countries (albeit smaller physically) that are offering public wireless access on the street etc.

      Bandwidth everywhere. I just want to stream my iPod collection over wireless to my car. That’s the day when I know the Internet is completed.

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