Monday, February 15, 2010

Google's fiber foray: Likely goal is to test alternative business model

Google's demonstration of concept fiber to the premises "experiment" announced last week could represent the start of a major transformation of how consumers receive information in an age where information is increasingly delivered via Internet protocol.

The potential transformation: from the telco/cable business model that brings the bulk of Americans Internet access that due to CAPEX constraints cannot reach about 12 percent of U.S households to the advertising-based business model used for decades by mass broadcasters. Investors provide much of the funding needed for costly transmitters and other broadcast equipment. But advertisers provide another deep and ongoing source of cash to invest in the necessary broadcast equipment to reach consumers.

Google's experiment isn't likely about testing fiber to the premises technology. Fiber is a well demonstrated means of getting lots of bits and bytes to the doorstep with plenty of capacity to spare. Rather, I suspect it's to explore an alternative business model to bring Internet protocol-based services to homes that is to a large degree based on the network broadcasting business model.

Notably, Google's announcement comes as the U.S. government struggles with the inherent conflict of implementing policies to expand advanced telecommunications infrastructure to all Americans while paying homage to the privately owned telco/cable dominated Internet "ecosystem" that makes doing so impossible without substantial subsidies in a time of economic penury.

In the 1960's, mass communications theorist Marshall McLuhan predicted an electronic global village linked together by a broadcast television -- a medium so powerful that the medium itself would be as important as its content. "The medium is the message,” he famously declared. While McLuhan's observation was about TV, in retrospect it applies even more so to the Internet. Google's foray into fiber may well have been undertaken with McLuhan firmly in mind.

1 comment:

Heresiarch said...

I rescued from cassette this talk that Marshall McLuhan gave at Johns Hopkins University in the mid 1970s. I have not found an audio file of this talk anywhere online. So far as I know it's an original contribution to the archive of McLuhan audio. Enjoy. Rare McLuhan Audio

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