Recently the idea was mooted of having the centre of London shut itself down to have the likes of Lewis Hamilton racing round its streets in a Formula One race. That would be seriously cool. It would also be seriously cool if we had data carried on superfast fibre optics flying all round the UK capital.
I mention this as earlier this week Google released a rather dramatic teaser webpage for its Google Fiber city project, which it says will be switched on 26 July. (The event is clearly so important that it actually contains a link to itself. A little egotistical some might think.)
In case you didn’t know Google’s Fiber is a project that will deliver superfast fibre optic cable connections of 1Gb/s for upload and download, to large areas, funded entirely by Google. The first cities to get the service are Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, which I’m led to believe are different places (as Dorothy might say, ‘there’s no place like homes’).
The telecoms industry, and certainly the large incumbents will no doubt be watching closely to see what Google will come up with when it switches on the service on 26 July.
Since their inexorable rise over the past decade or so, the likes of Google and Apple have railed against the limitations of what they see as the dinosaur-like networks that they feel are forced to do with.
There’s was talk that Steve Jobs wanted to create a nationwide wifi network on the US so it could avoid having to do business with the likes of AT&T, but clearly was not able to do so. Google Fiber however is a real project and is seen by many as a not so polite two fingers salute to the incumbents. So Google is really put its (considerable amount of) money where its mouth is. Can it pull it off?
What many are asking is whether Google Fiber will be a straightforward broadband play or whether it’s going for the cable guys as well. It hasn’t got a great track record is bridging that broadband/TV divide so far.
The advertising giant’s Google TV add-on didn’t fare so well and at the end of last year Logitech had to write off a huge amount on its unsold Google Revue TV boxes. Its CEO described the venture as a ‘gigantic mistake’.
However, there are signs that Google could be a successful content player. It has recently successfully rebranded the Android market place as Google Play, and the early signs are that it’s newly launched Nexus 7 tablet, which is designed to be an appealing portal to Google Play content, and is clearly a shot across the bows of the Amazon Kindle Fire, is being very well received by reviewers.
Then there’s the news that it might start producing original content for YouTube and also charging for subscriptions.
So come July 26, Google will launch its own network and possibly offering unprecedented fast access to its own content. If it can get the price right, and become a truly disruptive player that could cause concern now just to the Verizon’s and AT&T’s of this world, but the likes of Comcast too.