Cities Line Up for Google Fiber

Published May 14, 2010

Google’s ambitious business plans have extended far beyond the realm of Internet searches—to social networking, instant messaging and even the mobile phone industry. The company is now putting on yet another hat: Free broadband provider.

Google Fiber has a goal of reaching up to 500,000 computer users. The company is currently reviewing more than 1,000 applications from city governments, and it says it expects to make its final decisions for deploying the network in the coming months.

Quasi-Muni Broadband
The Mountain View, California company is targeting areas that don’t have much or any broadband service. Many of the cities looking to win the Google Fiber sweepstakes see it as a sort of Plan B after attempts to offer broadband as a city utility failed.

Christopher Pasquin, founder of New Jersey-based R-1 Video Gaming LLC, said he applauds the boldness of a private company moving in to provide broadband that is truly free of charge.

“As the owner of a few companies, some of which are 75 percent or more online-based, I am 110 percent in favor of it,” Pasquin said. “I feel free broadband is past due. It helps people in many areas find products, jobs, and more, which in turns helps businesses hire people, and that has an overall positive economic impact.”

Just a PR Stunt?
Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, says “hats off to Google” for its leap into the broadband business. But he says the company is only taking a short hop into the shallow end.

“I don’t think Google really wants to be in the business of providing Internet to customers, because running Internet service isn’t all that profitable,” Radia said. “The real investment is not going to come from Google but from telecommunications companies and other entrepreneurs.”

Learning Experience

Google may be offering free broadband simply to gain experience and intelligence as it expands into different areas of the tech industry, Radia says.

“Having a resident network run by Google will give it a good opportunity to see how its products and services will impact the network,” he said, adding, “any technological innovations that Google creates could certainly come in handy to other companies that are building fiber networks in the future.”

Krystle Russin ([email protected]) writes from Texas.