Google announced in its blog on Wednesday that the company is going to build an experimental, high-speed optical fiber network. The ostensible goal is to improve the Internet, promote the development of next generation apps, and to promote openness and choice (read: Net Neutrality). The testing will be in a limited number of cities. The real agenda, however, may be different than it seems.
Of course, a lot of work in high speed networking has already been done by the U.S. Department of Energy. Its nationwide network of National Laboratories, like Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore are connected via cross country backbones made up of multiple OC-192 optic fiber lines, and scientists at those labs have been moving data, routinely, for years, at speeds much higher than the gigabit per second proposed by Google.
So if we already have a well tested infrastructure at these laboratories, which are heavy Macintosh users by the way, what's Google up to?
For starters, they may be trying to further distract Microsoft. After all, Google is in the content delivery business. Google's ownership of a major and possibly growing network would concern Microsoft.
Another motive is to put Comcast and AT&T on notice that Google might be able to muster the muscle to seriously compete with them, and in doing so, enforce their own agenda for how a major fiber network should be operated.
This announcement seems like a diversionary threat in a chess game. Customers go all gaga over the proposed network speeds, Google gets some more mind share, and CEOs of competing companies sit up and are forced to take notice when they should be attending to other business.
It's basically Google saying, "Look, we can if we want to. Be on notice."
Regular Comcast and AT&T customers shouldn't really get too excited. Unless of course, some day, Google gets really annoyed and launches a competing network for real.