LAFAYETTE, La., April 22, 2010 – Incumbent communications companies are welcome to set up shop on Google’s experimental super-high speed internet service once it’s up and running, one of the company’s executives said Wednesday during a discussion about rolling out fiber networks.
“We definitely inviting the Comcasts, the AT&T service providers to work with us on our network, and to provide their service offering on top of our pipe – we’re definitely planning on doing that,” said Minnie Ingersoll, Google’s product manager and co-lead for alternative access. “Our general attitude has been that there’s plenty of room for innovation right now in the broadband space, and it’s great what the cable companies are doing, upgrading to DOCSIS 3.0, but no one company has a monopoly on innovation.”
“We’re looking for other service providers to be able to come in and offer their service on top of our network so that residents have a choice when they open up their accounts,” she said. “They get the connection from us, and then they have a choice as to who they subscribe to.”
Ingersoll made the remarks at FiberFete, an invitation-only conference held in Lafayette that drew the top minds in telecommunications from around the world. Analysts and engineers flew in to discuss the impact that such high-speed connectivity would have on municipalities, and how cities and companies can re-invent themselves in such high-bandwidth environments.
Lafayette is on track to complete the build out of its own municipal fiber-to-the-home network this year. It offers businesses internet connectivity of up 100 megabits per second (mgps) and residents up to 50 mgbps. The city’s leaders are looking to the network to help drive its economic growth, and to grow new kinds of information-age businesses that diversify its economy away from the painfully cyclical oil and gas industry.
Early this February, Google announced that it plans on building one gigabit per second fiber-to-the-home internet connections in communities around the country. It solicited input from the public on where it should build such networks. Its criteria were fairly scanty: All they required at the time was that the community have a minimum of 50,000 or a maximum of 500,000 residents.
“Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone,” read the blog post making the announcement.
“We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it’s creating new bandwidth-intensive “killer apps” and services, or other uses we can’t yet imagine.”
The company also said that it wants to learn about fiber deployment techniques and how to improve them. Additionally, its goal is to make its experimental networks adhere to the “open access” and net neutrality principles that it has advocated for so long in Washington.
Telecommunications companies have historically opposed formalized “open access” rules that would have forced them to open up their networks to competing service providers.
Ingersoll said more than 1,100 communities and nearly 200,000 private individuals have asked Google to build the networks in their municipalities.
She’s been busy reviewing the applications with two criteria in mind: the efficiency with which such networks could be rolled out, and how the targeted communities could benefit from the roll-out of such a network.
“A lot of what we roll out will be dependent on the conversation we have with the communities,” she said. “What are the residents’ attitudes towards this service? Obviously when you’re deploying this in the streets, and you’re blocking the traffic it can’t be disruptive. So we’re looking for a community that’s excited to have this in their neighborhoods.”
“We’re really trying to figure out how to make the communities that we deploy in models of that wholesale open ecosystem that we want to help foster,” she said.
Editor’s Note: Travel and accomodations for this series of stories was provided by the organizers of FiberFête.