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Clinging To GoogleNet

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2005-11-21

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Google says I'm wrong. Robert X. Cringely says it, too. Even WebProNews' David Utter disagrees. Okay, maybe so. But as cognitive dissonance has its way with me, I'm stickin' to my guns and siding with Om Malik's original assertion that we haven't heard the last of GoogleNet. After all, if our favorite search engine has the means and the motivation, why wouldn't it set up an ad-supported nationwide wireless network?

I asked Google that very question. From the email I sent them:

"So I was checking out Google Blog, where you guys said Google had no plans to create a national wireless network--Google's only plan is to unwire Mountain View and San Fran. I'm not sure if I buy that. I'm not sure if a lot of people will buy it, given all the evidence--



What's Google planning to do with all that dark fiber? Why wouldn't Google set up something like this? An Ad supported network would benefit people and businesses (except of course, telecom businesses). It's certainly within Google's means to do so--and it would be a revolutionary and doable idea that would put Google more at the forefront of media future (or is advertising not driving the $400 a share?).

Not that Google's secretive about what it's doing or anything. ;) Data Docket Inc. was a smooth one until that relationship was outed--


So anyway, what's Google really doing with all that money and capability? Any comment would be greatly appreciated before I express my doubts online."

Of course, as many know who cover the industry, any response at all from Google is a good thing, even if it's a short one-like the one I got.

"Hi Jason-
Our Wifi plans are limited to the Bay area at this time - specifically Mountain View and San Francisco.
Thanks for your inquiry,
Megan Quinn
Google Inc."

The conspiracy theorist may overanalyze that sentence, seeing as information is limited and all of us pant at Pavlov's door awaiting any morsel-and this reporter really wants to overanalyze. The telling phrase, for the over-analytical, is "at this time." And I'm running with it.

From the Business 2.0 article that started it all:

"For the past year, [Google} has quietly been shopping for miles and miles of ‘dark,' or unused, fiber-optic cable across the country from wholesalers such as New York's AboveNet. It's also acquiring superfast connections from Cogent Communications and WilTel, among others, between East Coast cities including Atlanta, Miami, and New York. Such large-scale purchases are unprecedented for an Internet company, but Google's timing is impeccable. The rash of telecom bankruptcies has freed up a ton of bargain-priced capacity, which Google needs as it prepares to unleash a flood of new, bandwidth-hungry applications. These offerings could include everything from a digital-video database to on-demand television programming."

So the buzz begins about GoogleNet. It is possible, definitely doable, and providing the masses with a free medium by which Google could locally target advertising seems a brilliant and relatively cheap move. Some reports said it could be done for as little as $100 million in as little as 3 months. Why wouldn't they?

From the Cringely article that had everybody talking about "Google-Mart data centers."

"The same follows for the rumor that Google, as a dark fiber buyer, will turn itself into some kind of super ISP. Won't happen. And WHY it won't happen is because ISPs are lousy businesses and building one as anything more than an experiment (as they are doing in San Francisco with wireless) would only hurt Google's earnings."

It's an interesting opinion, though little support is given as to why it's lousy business and why exactly creating an ISP would hurt earnings. It's unclear to me how, with the revenue capability that could result from the type of advertising Utter mentioned on Friday, would hurt business, if Google provides some, to borrow from Space Balls, ludicrous-speed technology.

Am I clinging to a false hope that Google will unwire the world?

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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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