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Fiber Fete: Google’s fiber testbed

Minnie Ingersoll of Google at Fiber Fete talking about what Google is doing with it’s fiber testbed project.

What they want to do:
1) next generation applications.
2) Experiment with new and innovative ways to build out fiber networks
3) Work with “open access” networks

Not becoming a national ISP or cable tv provider. Google had suggested the FCC needed to make this kind of testbed, but realized the Commission had other focuses. Google realized this would be within their purview based on their mission statement.

Application review process for proposals from cities wanting the testbed project has begun. Over 1,100 communities applied. Evaluating based on speed and efficiency of deployment. Understanding how the community will benefit. Much will depend on the conversation they have with the communities as they learn more about their needs.

Working now on developing the offering. Openness – Is this a white label or wholesale service? What products and service partnerships are possible. Google will also develop its own high-bandwidth offerings.

May choose more than one community with very different characteristics.

Applications are full of civic pride. You learn what makes the various locations/communities unique.

Will announce services as soon as possible.

Leverage the enthusiasm – Google to create a web site to help communities connect with other resources. Don’t want to have cities feel excluded from getting higher-end broadband services.

What policies need to be in place to support broadband now?

Brough Turner asks about middle mile networks. Something Google looks at – where do they already have fiber? Sometimes communities farthest from the infrastructure, though, are the ones that would benefit most.

Bice Wilson: enthusiastic about leverage the enthusiasm concept. All the people in the room represent communities that are inventing this new cultural process. Google is helping drive the process. Are you planning to make this useful in that way (as a model)?

Google is looking for specific ways to keep the applicant communities talking to each other. Is it an email list? A forum? A wiki? Definitely looking to Open Source, create white papers and best practices from what they do so that others can benefit.

David Olsen from Portland: what type of testbed environment? Also thanks for what Google has done to raise consciousness of cities about significance of broadband.

Urban vs rural: not sure whether it will be 1, 2, 3, 4 communities. Might be in different communities, or neighborhoods or subsets of a community. Will probably be looking for more than one community, with differences. Probably a mix.

David Weinberger wonders how raw the data Google outputs about the project will be, and how immediate. Google hopes to satisfy with the amount of data, and immediacy. Google will be responsive to feedback, so people can let them know whether they’re providing enough info.

Marc Canter brings up political issues around municipalities providing pipes. Have they heard from AT&T and Comcast, etc.?

Google is definitely inviting the other providers to use their pipes. There’s plenty of room in the broadband space, and no one company has a monopoly on innovation. Discussions are ongoing about partnerships.

How open is open? What rules will there be?

Google will advocate policies around net neutrality, e.g. no content discrimination.

Garrett Conrad asks about leveraging Google’s apps vs apps the community might come up with?

The community aspect will be key, crucial. It would be wrong for Google to tell the community what they need… will be listening, but will also be prepared to offer guidance and applications.

Leslie Nulty asks what is the business structure concept that lies behind this? It’s not completely clear. Appears that Google intends to build, own, and operate these networks – become a monopoly provider. What are the checks and balances? Will Google become an unregulated monopoly?

Some will be the published, openness principles Google will be expect to be held to. Not a monopoly. Will offer reselling opportunities.

Canter: if you’re open, it’s not a monopoly.

The openness is of the service offering on top of our pipe. We’re not trying to force people into using Google apps.

Google does plan to build, own, and operate these networks in trial communities.

Nulty: price is the question for any community that might want to partner with Google.

Services will be competitively priced. Will negotiate with the municipalities on a contract that both think is fair. Google will be as transparent as they can be, and if there’s somethng they’re missing, let them know.

State regulations preventing broadband a barrier? Google wants to learn more about regulations and policies. Ask communities to explain regulatory barriers for their specific communities as part of RFI response.

Chris: Communities United for Broadband on Facebook.

Nancy Guerrera (sp?). Wants to know what it’s like working with local communities. Refers to previous project in San Francisco to set up muni wifi. Ended up building in Mountain View after discussions with SF didn’t work out. Google learned from this, though each community is different.

Will Google’s transparency extend to documenting issues/discussions with policy organizations?

Yes, if the press doesn’t document for us, we’ll do our best to document legal and regulatory barriers we encounter.

Comments

  1. The idea behind the network: provide bandwidth and see if it fosters new user behavior and thus innovations.

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