Google Fiber was destroyed from the very beginning

Just a little bit of news returned home to me in such a way that I will never forget where I was when I heard them speak. Mostly catastrophic, like the Challenger explosion or the attacks on September 11, 2010, I was sitting in my office in Ann Arbor when another event made the list – but the This case surprised and amused me. I applaud. Google has published its fiber experiment, a plan that connects at least 50,000 homes with fast and plentiful connections. In the end, someone tried to get rid of the monopoly, stagnant, second-place market for high-volume internet access in America. Last month, there was a stir at Alphabet’s Access department (the new name for the original was called Google Fiber). It Named a new executive, Greg McCray and the news agencies report that hundreds of Access employees have been transferred to other parts of the Google empire. Former CEO, Craig Barratt, was announced Last year, Access will “suspend” plans to deploy fiber-optic networks in some cities. Taken together, all of these news reports seem to signal that Google is abandoning the idea of ​​fiber-optic cables and turning to wireless access solutions definitively.

Buffer from the status quo defenders is this which means testing Google Fiber is a disaster. Simply not.

What this set of events so useful and so colorful signals that we need a completely different approach to the country’s world-class data transmission needs.

We need fiber everywhere. But we are talking about basic infrastructure when we talk about yarn. And the short-term benefit is not the short-term benefit of any private company is to make that basic fiber-optic infrastructure – which was a significant upgrade for the cable and copper lines of the last century. that Americans are now stuck – available to everyone at a reasonable price.

Google’s retreat is all about the bottom line. It wants an unrealistic rate of return on the underlying infrastructure. It wants to see rapid reductions in costs per subscriber, like the Moore’s Law of productivity changes that took place as digital technologists squeezed costs from other legacy businesses. .

But although the cost of the fiber – the glass itself – has dropped to the floor and the equipment needed to transmit a signal through the fiber has been cheaper over time, 80% or more of the cost of installing the fiber is labor. The high upfront cost of getting all the labor to tear the streets and hang wires on electric poles cannot be reimbursed in just a few years. That labor cost isn’t falling right now.

Basic physical infrastructure is like that. It requires long-term vision and patient capital – think visions of 10 years or more, instead of two or three. In return, investments in basic infrastructure will pay steady, reliable returns until the sun comes out. And the spillover effects of those investments on economic growth and social equity for everyone in the community are often extraordinary. Think metro, rail, and telephone networks: Fiber-optic internet access for everyone and for every other form of infrastructure, is the most important recent addition to the list of physical networks. there.

As Google’s comfort of long-term returns weakened and waned, it labeled its fiber project “experimental” (2010), then “business” (2012) and finally. is “bet” or “moonshot” (2015). Now, they hope to avoid that much labor costs by testing what can be done using its Webpass wireless access device, rather than just installing cables.

Don’t get distracted when talking about wireless networks. To say Americans can rely solely on wireless is like saying, “Who needs the airport? We have a plane! “All those wireless connections will require fiber-optic cables to go deep into residential, home, and business areas; only optical fibers are capable of carrying the tsunami data we want to produce across our devices. So far, no one has been able to reliably crack the ultra-high-capacity wireless signal through walls and doors, less than around hills and through trees. And the only thing that can make those wireless connections so competitive is the solid public control over the pipes and poles to ensure no monopolist is around us. .

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